Canada pipeline blast risks Washington natural gas shortage

The incident is ongoing in the community of Shelley northeast of Prince George
The incident is ongoing in the community of Shelley northeast of Prince George. Greg N/@gregnoel Twitter

14 October, 2018

Puget Sound Energy, a US energy company, is also asking customers in Washington state to help conserve natural gas and electricity because of B.C.'s pipeline rupture and the impact it has on the USA gas supply.

To avoid an even more extensive shortage, the gas distribution system operator has asked customers that do have gas to turn down their thermostats and use their appliances that run on gas as little as possible.

While FortisBC's system is not damaged, they are contending with an overall energy flow issue stemming from Tuesday's incident.

Enbridge says the explosion happened after one of its natural gas pipelines suffered a rupture around 5:45 p.m.

RCMP said homes in the immediate area, which is largely rural, were evacuated.

"The investigation has now been turned over to Transportation Safety Board, with assistance from National Energy Board and Enbridge".

So far no injuries have been reported. The company can apply to resume full pressure, the regulator said in a statement on its website.

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The Enbridge pipeline is part of its Westcoast Energy network, and carries as much as 2.9 billion cubic feet of gas a day - supplying half of the demand from Washington, Oregon and Idaho - from the Fort Nelson processing plant in northern British Columbia to the US border.

"We thought it might have been a train crash or a low-flying jet", he said.

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

The analysts say they expect Enbridge will restore the pipeline to service within a few weeks, given the lack of damage to the parallel line and the high priority of restoring gas to residential markets in the beginning of winter.

Terry Teegee, Assembly of First Nations regional chief, said he's still shaken by what he witnessed outside his home on the Lhedli T'enneh First Nation reserve near the site of the explosion.

"That means we will be able to start getting gas to our customers in the Interior and back down to the Lower Mainland", said Fortis BC vice-president Doug Stout in a video release.

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