International natural gas prices leaped in the first three months of this year as economic shocks inflicted by the early 2020 onset of Covid-19 wore off, according to the Department of Energy (DOE).

Henry Hub prices

The United States kept its stature as the top North American gas trader, almost doubling former champion Canada’s volume. Total U.S. exports in 1Q2021 of 1.582.8 Tcf or 17.6 Bcf/d were up by 8.3% from 1.462 Tcf or 16.1 Bcf/d in the same period of 2020.

U.S. exports to Mexico led the recovery with a 409% surge to $9.58/MMBtu in 1Q2021 from $1.88 a year earlier, said the latest trade scorecard of the DOE’s gas regulation division.

Canadian pipeline deliveries to the Lower 48 placed second with an 80.6% price jump to $3.58 from $1.98. U.S. exports to Canada gained by 60.8% to $3.21 from $1.99.

The average price for U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports rose by 21.5% to $6.02 in the first quarter from year-ago prices of $4.95.

International gas trade volumes also mostly increased, although at a slower pace than prices.

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The lone exception was U.S. exports to Canada, which dropped by 3.3% to 254.4 Bcf or 2.8 Bcf/d, from 263.2 Bcf or 2.9 Bcf/d.

Canadian exports to the United States grew by 12.4% to 807.2 Bcf or 9 Bcf/d, from 718 Bcf or 7.9 Bcf/d.

U.S. sales volumes in Mexico grew by 3.2% to 493.8 Bcf or 5.5 Bcf/d from 478.5 Bcf or 5.3 Bcf/d. U.S. LNG exports increased by 16% to 834.4 Bcf or 9.3 Bcf/d in 1Q2021 from 719.4 Bcf or 7.9 Bcf/d in the year-ago quarter.