Pipeline explosion expected to increase prices at the pump

Pipeline explosion expected to increase prices at the pump

FortisBC has approximately one million gas customers and it is estimated that about 70% of the customers have the potential to lose gas supply.

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

A statement from Enbridge issued on Wednesday afternoon said the fire had been extinguished and the company were working with the First Nations tribe to ensure there was no further disruption to their lives.

About 100 people have been evacuated from the nearby Lheidli T'enneh First Nation as a precaution.

The Westcoast Transmission System transports natural gas produced in the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin to consumers in B.C. and, through interconnecting pipelines, other Canadian provinces and the United States.

But by turning off the pipelines, the energy company said there could be a disruption in gas supply to customers in the Pacific Northwest region.

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

The Enbridge website describes its almost 2,900 kilometre natural gas pipeline as capable of "transporting approximately 55 per cent of the gas produced in the province", and "the backbone of B.C.'s natural gas industry since 1957".

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"I could feel the heat through the windows", he said.

The Enbridge natural gas pipeline that exploded Tuesday evening is a feeder for the province-wide gas distribution system and, because of this, FortisBC says it anticipates decreased energy flow and potential loss of service.

Residents previously evacuated can return home. "So we are asking everybody to chip in", said Stout.

"To me, it's just literally how vulnerable we are in that area", he said.

Enbridge continues to investigate the cause of the explosion.

"We have agreed as an industry to get people to conserve in the event of a shortage", said Ian Tostenson, chief executive of the B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association.

"It's really grown in the last four years or so", he said, noting Fortis has told him they have connected more homes in Victoria in the last year to natural gas than in any other year. The Pembina line was shut down at points on both sides of the incident, and the company is draining down the line.

He said Enbridge recognizes the impact the explosion could have on customers, but the company can't speculate when the gas will start flowing again.

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