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U.S. Imports Of Canada’s Natural Gas Drop As Prices Jump

U.S. imports of natural gas from Alberta to the western United States have dropped in recent months due to higher natural gas spot prices at the Alberta trading hub than at the U.S. benchmark Henry Hub, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Friday.

In April and May 2020, natural gas spot prices at the NOVA/AECO-C (AECO) trading hub in Alberta increased, while natural gas prices elsewhere, including at Henry Hub, dropped, due to the weak demand in the lockdowns.

Prices at the AECO hub in Canada have reflected in recent years regulatory changes to the Western Canadian pipeline operations, according to the EIA.

Several operational changes in Western Canada’s natural gas pipeline system, coupled with narrower spreads in the U.S.-Canada natural gas spot prices, have led to lower volumes of Canadian gas being exported to the

United States, especially at border crossings in Montana and North Dakota, the EIA said. Natural gas imports in Montana and North Dakota in the first five months of 2020 averaged 0.4 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) and 0.3 Bcf/d less, respectively, compared with the first five months of 2019, the administration has estimated.

According to Genscape pipeline flow estimates cited by the EIA, U.S. imports of gas at the U.S.-Canada border crossings in the western United States have dropped to an estimated average of 6.2 Bcf/d in April and 6.3 Bcf/d in May 2020. Pipeline imports into Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, and Washington account for most U.S. natural gas imports and tend to be less seasonal than imports by pipeline in the eastern United States.  

In its latest Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) in June, the EIA expects U.S. pipeline imports of natural gas—more than 99 percent of which come from Canada—to decline to 7.0 Bcf/d this year from 7.4 Bcf/d in 2019, before rising to 7.9 Bcf/d next year.  

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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