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B.C. natural gas export volumes climb, but value sinks

Natural gas accounted for 3.6 per cent of B.C. exports in the first half of this year
A drilling rig near Rolla.

B.C. exported more natural gas during the first half of 2016 than it did during the same period the year before, but the increase failed to make up for stubbornly low commodity prices.

Natural gas exports totalled $675 million through June 2016, according to BC Stats data released in August—a decline of 13 per cent over the same period in 2015. Natural gas accounted for 3.8 per cent of the province's exports during the first half of this year, down from 4.3 per cent.

Despite that, the province exported 11.3 per cent more natural gas during the same period. All of that gas went to customers in the United States, much of it on the Alliance Pipeline between Northeast B.C. and natural gas sales hubs in the Chicago area.

Overall energy product exports—a category that includes natural gas, coal and electricity sales—fell from 17.6 per cent to 14.8 per cent of B.C.'s export mix. Leading the decline were coal exports, which lost 21.2 per cent in value, followed by electricity sales, which saw values decline 16.5 per cent despite a slight increase in volumes sold.
Energy products remained B.C.'s second-largest export category behind solid wood products, which account for more than a quarter of the province's crossborder sales.

The bump in natural gas sales volumes contributed to an overall 1.3 per cent increase in exports to the United States. Exports to other countries fell year to year.

Static or declining U.S. natural gas prices have been part of the reason for the B.C. government's push to establish a liquified natural gas export industry, which would secure higher prices in Asian countries. Despite that, some analysts say the world faces an LNG supply glut over the next few years.