DOE: Gas Imports Grow for 11th Straight Year
Supported by the largest increase in imported Canadian gas since
1995, total natural gas imports rose for the 11th straight year in
1998, according to a recent Department of Energy (DOE) report.
Overall, the DOE said net imports as a percentage of total
domestic gas grew 14% to 3,153 Bcf. Total exports grew 3% from
159.7 Bcf in 1997 to 164.4 Bcf in 1998. Canadian imports, which
amounted to 3,052 Bcf, accounted for 96.8% of the total U.S. import
The Canadian imports marked a 5% growth from 1997 amounts. This
is the largest jump since 1995, when gas imports from Canada jumped
8% from 1994 levels. U.S. exports to Canada fell 23% from 59.1 Bcf
in 1997 to 45.3 Bcf in 1998, creating a net import of 3006.7 Bcf.
The average price of gas imported from Canada was $2.14/ MMBtu
under long-term (over two years) contracts and $1.74/ MMBtu under
The jump in Canadian imports, however, did not translate into an
increase in Canadian income. A 9% drop in international border
prices for Canadian supplies from $2.11/ MMBtu in 1997 to $1.91/
MMBtu in 1998 resulted in a drop of Canadian producer revenue. The
DOE calculated the Canadian producer revenue at $5.8 billion, a
$300 million decline from 1997 amounts.
Although the U.S. imported more and exported less to Canada, the
reverse was the case in U.S. - Mexico gas trading. Imports from
Mexico decreased from 17.2 Bcf in 1997 to 14.5 Bcf in 1998.
Exports, which reached 53.1 Bcf, increased 38% over the previous
year's level. Over half of the export volume was shipped through
the Samalayuca Pipeline, a 45-mile, 24-inch pipeline that opened on
Dec. 20, 1997 and transports gas from El Paso's Hueco Compressor
Station to Mexican markets at the border crossing near Clint, TX.
In the fourth quarter alone, this pipeline exported 10.5 Bcf to
Mexico. Like the Canadian situation, however, low prices inhibited
profit-making, as the weighted average price of U.S. exports to
Mexico hit a three year low of $2.02/ MMBtu. The report was
published in late March. The DOE's Office of Fossil Energy and
Office of Natural Gas & Petroleum Import and Export Activities
contributed to it.
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