Fiery pipe­line ex­plo­sion in B.C. raises pos­si­bil­ity of nat­u­ral gas short­age

St. Thomas Times-Journal - - NATIONAL NEWS -

PRINCE GE­ORGE, B.C. — The com­pany that dis­trib­utes nat­u­ral gas to homes around British Columbia is urg­ing its cus­tomers to con­serve af­ter an ex­plo­sion and fire on the pipe­line that sup­plies most of the nat­u­ral gas han­dled by For­tis B.C.

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

Doug Stout, For­tis BC 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.

DHRUV DE­SAI/HAND­OUT VIA THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

A pipe­line rup­tured and sparked a mas­sive fire north of Prince Ge­orge, B.C.

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