The United States grew and Canada shrank as natural gas exporters as the coronavirus pandemic spread in the first half of this year, according to the latest international trade scorecard from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
The records, compiled by the DOE’s gas regulation office, showed that market diversity made the difference. American dealers used more outlets than their Canadian counterparts.
Liquefied natural gas (LNG) tankers and pipelines to Mexico propelled 22.5% U.S. export growth to 2.6 Tcf (14.4 Bcf/d) in the first half of 2020 (1H2020), compared with 2.1 Tcf (11.8 Bcf/d) in the same period of 2019.
Canada relied entirely on U.S. markets, with the nation’s first LNG terminal by Royal Dutch Shell plc and its partners still under construction on the northern Pacific coast of British Columbia.
Canadian cross-border pipeline deliveries fell by 7.8% to 1.3 Tcf (7.2 Bcf/d) in 1H2020 from 1.4 Tcf (7.8 Bcf/d) in the same period of 2019.
U.S. LNG export growth slowed down but did not stop as a result of the global economic and energy market contraction caused by public health responses to the pandemic.
In the first six months, U.S. overseas tanker shipments dropped by 30.3% to 501.7 Bcf (5.5 Bcf/d) from 719.4 Bcf (7.9 Bcf/d), according to DOE. However, 2Q2020 LNG exports were still 21.3% higher than the 413.5 Bcf (4.5 Bcf/d) performance recorded for the comparable 2019 period, when there was less export capacity.
Total 1H2020 U.S. overseas LNG deliveries jumped by 57.8% to 1.2 Tcf (6.7 Bcf/d), compared with 773.9 Bcf (4.3 Bcf/d) at the same time last year.
U.S. pipeline exports to Mexico grew too, rising by 4.5% to 925.2 Bcf (5.1 Bcf/d) in 1H2020 from 885.2 Bcf (4.9 Bcf/d) in the same period of 2019.
Only U.S. exports to Canada declined, and only by a marginal 1.6% to 467.7 Bcf in 1H2020. That compares with 475.3 Bcf in the same 2019 period, a slip too little to change the daily average of 2.6 Bcf/d.
While overall gas trade volumes stayed high,1H2020 export prices took beatings on all export fronts except LNG by dropping far below their averages in the same period of 2019.
The 1H2020 value of U.S. exports fell by 38.7% to $1.89/MMBtu in Canada and dropped by 34.4% to $1.85 in Mexico. LNG prices gained 4% to $4.89 in the first six months.
The 1H2020 average price of Canadian pipeline exports to the United States took a 35.1% dive to $1.77.
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