U.S. natural gas exports via pipeline and liquefied natural gas (LNG) rose 13.4% year/year in 2020 despite the pandemic, although that was down from the previous annual increase of 29%, according to the latest trade scorecard of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

natural gas exports

Total 2020 U.S. gas exports to Canada, Mexico and overseas LNG markets grew to 5.28 Tcf or 14.4 Bcf/d, said DOE’s gas regulation division in the quarterly tally published Wednesday (May 5). The previous annual trade scorecard recorded an increase to 4.65 Tcf or 12.8 Bcf/d in 2019 from 3.6 Tcf or 9.6 Bcf/d in 2018.

International natural gas traffic rebounded in late 2020 but not enough to make up for all the damage inflicted on demand and economies by the Covid-19 pandemic, researchers said.

In the final three months of 2020, total U.S. exports of 1.56 Tcf topped a third-quarter low by 41%, researchers said. American sales to Canada grew by 21% and their prices jumped by 31.5%.

Canadian exports to the U.S. revived too, with 2020 fourth-quarter volume growing by 13.6% and prices increasing by 40.3%. U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports jumped to 807.5 Bcf from 357.4 Bcf in third-quarter 2020.

But the full-year 2020 gas trade scorecard still shows pandemic bruises.

The annual volume and value of cross-border flows between Canada and the United States shrank. The drop contributed to slowing down the swift pace of pre-pandemic annual U.S. export growth by more than half.

Canadian pipeline deliveries to the U.S. declined by 6.4% to 2.6 Tcf or 7.1 Bcf/d in 2020 from 2.78 Tcf or 7.6 Bcf/d in 2019.

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U.S. 2020 exports to Canada dropped by 7.5% to 900 Bcf or 2.5 Bcf/d from 972.5 Bcf or 2.7 Bcf/d in 2019.

LNG stood out as the 2020 growth star. U.S. exports to 37 countries jumped by 31.3% to 2.39 Tcf or 6.5 Bcf/d last year from 1.82 Tcf or 5 Bcf/d in 2019.

U.S. gas exports to Mexico increased by 6.7% to 1.99 Tcf or 5.4 Bcf/d in 2020 from 1.86 Tcf or 5.1 Bcf/d in 2019.

The annual average price fetched by Canadian exports to the U.S. dropped by 18.1% to $1.96/MMBtu in 2020 from $2.39/MMBtu in 2019.

The price earned by U.S. exports to Canada plunged by 25.7% to $2.02/MMBtu in 2020 from $2.72/MMBtu in 2019.

In Mexico, U.S. gas lost 17.5% to $2.12/MMBtu in 2020 compared to $2.57/MMBtu in 2019.

Prices received for U.S. tanker shipments of LNG ranged from $4.23/MMBtu in Belgium to $6.72/MMBtu in Panama. Small freight container deliveries fetched $10/MMBtu in Haiti, Barbados and the Bahama Islands.

In the top volume destinations, U.S. exports of LNG earned prices of $5.36/MMBtu in South Korea, $5.60/MMBtu in China, and $5.98/MMBtu in Japan.