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LNG import binge ends with no ships poised to enter Canada or U.S.

March 9 (Reuters) - U.S. and Canadian liquefied natural gas terminals that took in twice as much of the fuel as last year are now seeing their import binge end as warmer temperatures are predicted until the spring begins, Reuters data showed.

No tankers were at or moving toward any of the 11 LNG import terminals in the United States or the one in Canada, according to the Reuters Interactive Map.

The countries imported almost twice as much liquefied natural gas this winter compared with last year as U.S. Northeast power generators bought more fuel to keep their power plants running through the cold winter months.

Twelve months ago, brutal cold weather in the U.S. Northeast caused record natural gas price spikes and forced some power plants to shut for lack of fuel as generators scrambled to outbid each other for scarce supplies.

Gas prices so far this winter (November-March) were about 40 percent lower than a year ago after generators, learning lessons from last winter, stocked up on extra oil and gas from domestic and overseas sources before the weather turned cold.

Since November, U.S. and Canadian LNG imports totaled 47.8 billion cubic feet, compared with just 26.8 bcf at the same time last winter, according to data from Thomson Reuters Analytics.

LNG imports this winter were similar to the 44.6 bcf sent out during the same time in the winter of 2012-2013 but fell short of the 72.9 bcf sent out during the winter of 2011-2012.

Most of the LNG imports this winter came through Canaport in New Brunswick and terminals located in the Everett, Massachusetts-area, due primarily to buying from power generators and others in New England.

New England's power grid operator, ISO New England, provided incentives through a winter reliability program to encourage generators to lock in oil and gas supplies early. LNG was included in the program for the first time this winter.

ISO New England said six gas units bought fuel from LNG terminals as part of the current program.

Due to the success of the reliability program this winter, the ISO has said it wants to continue using similar programs through 2018 instead of implementing the market-based solutions sought by some some generators were seeking.

The Everett LNG terminal is owned by GDF Suez SA. Canaport is owned by Repsol and privately held Irving Oil.

The biggest power companies in New England include units of National Grid Plc (LSE: NG.L - news) , Eversource Energy (NYSE: ES - news) , Iberdrola SA , NextEra Energy Inc (NYSE: NEE - news) , Dominion Resources Inc (NYSE: D - news) Exelon Corp and NRG Energy Inc (NYSE: NRG - news) . (Reporting by Scott DiSavino in New York; editing by Jessica Resnick-Ault and Andrew Hay)

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