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Ruptured pipeline near Prince George repaired, but gas supply still limited for FortisBC customers

FortisBC says you'll still have to keep the thermostat on low for the time being
Enbridge has complete repairs on the Pipeline which ruptured on Oct. 9 but natural gas supply will remain limited.(via THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Dhruv Desai)

Enbridge has completed repairs on the ruptured pipeline near Prince George, but says natural gas supply will still be limited.

Although the 36-inch natural gas transmission pipeline, which ruptured on Oct. 9, was brought back into operation on Oct. 31, Enbridge says the pipeline will run at about 55 per cent of operating pressure and gradually ramp up to 80 per cent through November.

In response to the still limited supply FortisBC has sent out an email to its customers asking them to continue to reduce their natural gas use.  FortisBC explains the company will have a constrained supply of natural gas and its gas system will be vulnerable in periods of cold weather.

“As you may know, on October 9, 2018 an Enbridge-owned natural gas transmission pipeline ruptured near Prince George, BC. Given Enbridge’s pipelines provide the majority of FortisBC’s natural gas, this has had an immediate impact on our natural gas system. Your support and positive efforts to reduce your use of natural gas during this time is immensely appreciated,” reads the Nov. 5 email FortisBC sent out to its customers.

“While completion of the repairs is a positive step, the reduced capacity reported by Enbridge means natural gas supply will still be limited. As we head into colder weather, we ask that our customers continue to focus on their conservation measures to help ensure a sufficient supply of natural gas is available for customers over the winter," the email adds.

Fortis says they are taking steps to make sure natural gas is available to their customers by bringing in natural gas from Alberta through the Southern Crossing pipeline, and securing additional natural gas on the open marketplace and working with their industrial customers to help them decrease their natural gas use.

“However, the total amount of natural gas available will remain limited over the next few months, until Enbridge’s transmission pipelines are back to operating at a full 100 per cent capacity,” reads the email.

“As such, FortisBC is asking everyone, from homeowners and stratas, to businesses and municipal buildings, to continue to conserve natural gas whenever possible this winter. To help do our part, we have lowered the thermostats in all FortisBC offices to below 20 C and we have changed our schedule of heating and cooling to operate on reduced hours. We have also begun running our compressed natural gas fleet vehicles on gasoline.”

FortisBC also explained how its customers can reduce natural gas usage despite the colder temperature setting.

The company suggests lowering the thermostat between 18 – 20 C when home and awake and to keep temperatures at no more than 17 C when away or asleep, FortisBC says. Turning temperatures down and reducing other natural gas usages, such as washing laundry in cold water will help.

“For example, if 11 households were to lower their thermostat by up to three degrees Celsius during the heating season, it would be enough natural gas to heat one home for an entire year,” read the email.

FortisBC says they will continue to provide regular updates as they become available.