According to the National Energy Board, Canada exports more natural gas than it imports and since 2011, natural gas export volumes have been about three times as much as the import volumes.  Seven Generations Energy photo.

NEB: Canada trades natural gas mostly with the United States

Canada exports more natural gas than it imports, and since 2011, natural gas export volumes have been about three times as much as the import volumes.

According to the National Energy Board, Canada trades natural gas mostly with the United States.

Source: National Energy Board.

The blue bars on the graph above represent natural gas flowing to the US, and the orange bars show import volumes. Gas trade (exports and imports) increased from the mid-80s, and export volumes peaked in the early 2000s before decreasing.

Source: National Energy BoardExports by pipeline are shown in the graph above by the blue arrows for each province’s ports.

Most Canadian natural gas exports cross the international border from British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. Alberta and B.C. produce most of the exported natural gas and the majority of Alberta’s exported gas passes through nearby provinces by pipeline before being exported.

Import volumes are represented by the red shaded arrows. Some provinces do not produce enough natural gas, so consumers must get their gas from US sources.

Natural gas usually moves by pipeline, and the costs of transportation are related to the distance the gas must travel. Ontario can get gas from the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin (WCSB) or from the US, but the WCSB is much farther away so it is likely easier, or less expensive to import the closerUS gas.

Historically, Ontario’s demand was met by natural gas from the WCSB transported on the TransCanada Mainline. However, imports into Ontario began to increase after 2000 after the Alliance pipeline began operating.

The Alliance pipeline carries natural gas from the WCSB to the U.S. Midwest, where it may be re-imported into Ontario through interconnecting pipelines.

Since 2008, technological advances in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing led to the development of significant tight and shale resources in the Marcellus and Utica basins in the US Northeast.

This also led to increased imports into Ontario, particularly through the Niagara Falls port and as a result, Ontario now receives less gas from the more distant WCSB.