Imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) rose 4% to 157.3 Bcf in the first quarter compared to the first quarter of 2004 and total U.S. gas imports were up 5.8% to 1,154.1 Bcf, the Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy said in its First Quarter Report on Natural Gas Imports and Exports. Imports from Canada were up 6.1% in the first quarter to 996.5 Bcf.

However, total exports rose 20.3% to 274.2 Bcf, with exports to Canada rising 35% to 168.2 Bcf and exports to Mexico up 2% to 89.4 Bcf. LNG exports to Japan from Alaska rose 5.7% during the quarter to 16.7 Bcf, Fossil Energy said.

During the first quarter, six importers of LNG (BG, BP, Distrigas, Excelerate, Shell and Statoil) brought in 58 cargoes from six countries (Algeria, Malasia, Nigeria, Oman, Qatar and Trinidad). That compared with 56 cargoes in the first quarter of 2004 and the same number of cargoes in the fourth quarter of 2004.

Long-term LNG imports rose 32.1% to 50.6 Bcf. Distrigas imported 21.7 Bcf from Trinidad at an average price of $5.94. BG LNG imported 28.9 Bcf from Trinidad at an average price of $6.03. Short-term LNG imports totaled 106.3 Bcf compared to 113.2 Bcf in 1Q2004 and 101.1 Bcf in the fourth quarter.

Fossil Energy also has been releasing monthly statistics on LNG imports. Its latest data is for the month of April, showing that LNG imports rose to 47.6 Bcf from the 45.9 Bcf imported in March, but were still below February’s 53.5 Bcf and January’s 57.8 Bcf. Trinidad has been by far the largest LNG exporter to the U.S. with 75% of the total in April and 78% of the total for the first four months of the year.

In its quarterly report, Fossil Energy said the amount of total natural gas imported during the first quarter under long-term contracts rose 2% to 166.9 Bcf, but long-term imports from Canada fell 7.3% to 116.3 Bcf. The average price of gas flowing under long-term agreements was $6.17/MMBtu compared to $5.48 in the first quarter of 2004 and $6.19 in the fourth quarter.

About 880 Bcf of gas was imported from Canada under short-term agreements at an average of $6.09 compared to 813.8 Bcf in 1Q2004 at an average of $5.51, Fossil Energy reported.

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