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BC  

Gas line re-started

Alanna Kelly

UPDATE 7:48 a.m.

The company that shut down its main natural gas pipeline through British Columbia following an explosion and fire Tuesday night says it has restarted a smaller line running beside the damaged pipe.

Enbridge says it has received National Energy Board approval Wednesday night to restart its 76-centimetre line, which was shut down as a precaution because it is in the same path as the 91-centimetre line that ruptured and exploded near Prince George.

The Calgary-based energy supplier says the line was carefully checked before permission was received to restart it at about 80 per cent of normal capacity.

Fortis BC, the company that depends on the Enbridge line for about 85 per cent of the gas it delivers to its one million customers, says in an online notice that gas is now flowing, but customers are still asked to cut back.

It says restoring flow in the smaller line is a positive step, but until the damaged larger line is repaired, a shortage of natural gas continues.

In response to the call for conservation, the B.C. Institute of Technology has tweeted that heat is off on the north side of its Burnaby campus until further notice, while the University of B.C. has told researchers and other non-essential users to immediately stop using natural gas.

The UBC bulletin says although gas use should still be restricted, "UBC buildings that use natural gas for heating, hot water and cooking are no longer expected to be impacted."

In an earlier news release, Enbridge said it is working with other companies to find alternate supplies of gas to meet demand.

Investigators are still searching for a cause of the blast just outside Prince George.

It damaged the company's primary natural gas pipeline linking the Fort Nelson area to Vancouver and south to another 750,000 customers in the northwest United States.


UPDATE: 9:55 p.m.

Many people are doing their part to help reduce their natural gas use today, but more needs to be done.

FortisBC said they are thankful to the customers who have been helping, which resulted in a reduction of about 20 per cent across the province on Wednesday.

“This means we have more time to keep gas flowing through the system for essential services,” said spokesperson Alex Munro.

A gas pipeline blast on Tuesday, northeast of Prince George, shut down the Enbridge natural gas pipeline about 600 miles northeast of Vancouver and could cut off flow to Washington State.

“We still need more customers to reduce their natural gas usage as much as possible for now, as we continue to work with Enbridge to confirm the impact on the system,” said Munro.

People are asked to avoid non-essential gas use until the supply issue has been resolved.

This includes turning off thermostats and limiting other uses of natural gas as much as possible.

“Everyone is doing their part, and we are aware that our neighbours south of the border have also been mindful of their gas use too,” said Munro.

Castanet News will keep updating this evolving story as information becomes available. 

- with files from Alanna Kelly


UPDATE: 4:15 p.m.

A gas pipeline that ruptured northeast of Prince George on Tuesday is causing FortisBC to urge customers conserve their use of natural gas.

The Enbridge natural gas pipeline explosion occurred at about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday and forced many people from their homes.

Doug Stout of FortisBC said that 85 per cent of the gas his company feeds to homes and businesses is carried by the twinned Enbridge pipeline that runs from northern B.C. to the Seattle area.

“Although FortisBC’s system is not damaged, we are working hard to continue to provide natural gas to homes and businesses,” said spokesperson Diana Sorace.

The impacted Enbridge lines are the two main lines used to move gas into FortisBC gas system to people in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island.

“We are looking to add to our supply by bringing in gas through the TransCanada line from Alberta and activating our Tilbury and Mt Hayes liquefied natural gas plants, and have also talked to our industrial customers about switching to alternative fuel sources,” said Sorace.

The damaged pipeline connects to the Northwest Pipeline system, which feeds puget Sound Energy, and risks cutting off the flow of Canadian natural gas to Washington State.

Pugest Sound Engery is urging its 750,000 customers to lower their thermostats and limit hot water use.

Here in B.C., residents are being asked to turn down their thermostat, turn off furnaces and minimize use of hot water.

As many as 700,000 customers in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island could be affected.

Fortis BC tells Castanet News that as of 4 p.m. they do not have any further updates but will keep us informed if things change.


UPDATE 1:23 p.m.

A massive pipeline explosion in British Columbia risks cutting off the flow of Canadian natural gas to Washington State, and companies are urging customers to conserve.

The blast Tuesday shut down the Enbridge natural gas pipeline about 600 miles northeast of Vancouver.

Doug Stout of Fortis BC said Wednesday that 85 per cent of the gas his company feeds to homes and businesses is carried by the twinned pipeline that runs from northern British Columbia to the United States border south of Vancouver.

The damaged Enbridge pipeline connects to the Northwest Pipeline system, which feeds Puget Sound Energy in Washington State and Northwest Natural Gas in Portland.

Puget Sound Energy is urging its 750,000 customers to lower their thermostats and limit hot water use at least through Wednesday.


UPDATE: 11:45 a.m.

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.

The blast Tuesday shut down the Enbridge natural gas pipeline about 15 kilometres northeast of Prince George.

Doug Stout, FortisBC vice-president of external relations, said Wednesday that 85 per cent of the gas his company feeds to homes and businesses is carried by the twinned pipeline that runs from northern B.C. to the United States border south of Vancouver.

One of the two lines ruptured and exploded but the second line is also shut while it's being checked for damage, said Stout, prompting Fortis to warn of "decreased energy flow and potential loss of service."

"Turn down your thermostat if you are in a cold spot. Turn off your furnace if you can, if you are in Vancouver or a situation where you can do that. Minimize the use of hot water if you have a natural gas hot water tank ... so we preserve the gas we have for as long as possible," said Stout.

As many as 700,000 customers in northern B.C., the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island could be directly affected by a shortage, he said.

Stout urged another 300,000 customers in the Okanagan and southeastern B.C., to conserve even though their natural gas comes from Alberta.

"We are asking them to cut back, too, because we can flow some of that gas past them and down here to the Lower Mainland. So we are asking everybody to chip in," said Stout.

The problems have the potential to flow south of the border.

The damaged Enbridge pipeline connects to the Northwest Pipeline system which feeds Puget Sound Energy in Washington State and Northwest Natural Gas in Portland.

Puget Sound Energy had already issued a notice on social media urging its 750,000 natural gas customers to lower their thermostats and limit hot water use at least through Wednesday, a warning Stout seconded.

"There is a potential impact on Seattle and north of Seattle," he said.

Currently Fortis has reserves still in the pipeline south of Prince George, in its liquefied natural gas storage tanks in the Lower Mainland and on Vancouver Island, and there is some gas flowing from Alberta through a pipeline in southern B.C., Stout said.

Fortis expected to receive updates on the situation as Transportation Safety Board investigators and National Energy Board inspectors arrived to assess the damage and attempt to determine a cause.

The company will update its customers as soon as it is in a position to offer something new, said Stout.


ORIGINAL: 8:40 a.m.

As many as 70 per cent of FortisBC's natural gas customers could be without service following an explosion of a pipeline north of Prince George.

Doug Stout, vice-president of external relations for the utility, is urging customers to use natural gas sparingly for the time being.

Fortis says none of their infrastructure was damaged when the Enbridge pipeline ruptured and ignited, but the utility relies on the pipeline to supply natural gas to its customers across the province, including in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley.

Fortis has now shut off the pipeline and as many as 700,000 customers – could lose gas supply before repairs can be affected.

- with files from CTV



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