Pipeline Explosion Causes Gas Shortage In British Colombia

Pablo Tucker
October 11, 2018

In the wake of Tuesday's rupture and fire along the Enbridge pipeline near Prince George, natural gas provide FortisBC is asking customers provincewide to reduce their usage Wednesday (Oct. 10).

The company isolated and depressurized a 36-inch pipeline, which carries gas to the Pacific Northwest, after it ruptured on Tuesday evening causing gas to ignite.

Enbridge continues to investigate the cause of the explosion. That's more than two-thirds of the company's customer base.

Doug Stout, vice-president of market development with FortisBC, said the Lower Mainland could see a four to eight-cent jump in gas prices as a result of the possible shortage.

The electricity and gas company said the line was carefully checked before it received permission to restart it at about 80 per cent of normal capacity.

"At this time we can not speculate about how long it will take to resolve the situation", Enbridge spokesman Michael Barnes said in an emailed statement.

The effect was already being felt on Vancouver Island Wednesday.

"This means we have more time to keep gas flowing through the system for essential services", said spokesperson Alex Munro. "Island Health can transition from natural gas to fuel oil if necessary, but again that hasn't been asked of us".

"But it may be at least one to two weeks".

The province's Ministry of Environment later confirmed the incident involved a 900 PSI gas line operated by Enbridge.

"Given UBC's geographic location at the end of the line, if Fortis BC runs out of gas, buildings that use natural gas for heating, hot water and cooking will be impacted, beginning as early as this evening, or possibly the morning of October 11", reads the alert.

"I know the priority is to keep the residents in B.C. being able to use natural gas - it's the industrial users that take the hit when this kind of thing happens and that's completely understandable", said Sampson.

FortisBC is urging its customers to conserve after an explosion and fire on the pipeline that supplies most of the natural gas to the province.

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