British Columbia

Ruptured gas pipeline near Prince George repaired, but remains at reduced capacity

Enbridge says the gradual process to bring the pipeline back to full capacity has begun — but there's no firm timeline for when this will be completed.

Enbridge says process to bring pipeline back to full capacity has begun — but no firm timeline in place

Repairs to the Enbridge pipeline that ruptured and sparked a massive fire north of Prince George are complete, according to the company. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Dhruv Desai)

Enbridge Inc. says it has successfully completed repairs on the section of a natural gas pipeline that exploded near Prince George, B.C., three weeks ago, and it expects to begin safely returning the repaired segment to service within the next two days.

"We've successfully completed repairs on the the 36-inch natural gas pipeline and we've started a 48-hour process to return it to service," said Enbridge spokesperson Michael Barnes from Texas.

Flows of natural gas through the repaired segment will be gradually increased until it reaches 80 per cent of its normal operating pressure. A smaller pipeline nearby, which is also at operating at 80 per cent, will help ensure the ongoing safety and integrity of the system.

The Enbridge natural gas pipeline that exploded and caught fire Oct. 9, 2018 forced the evacuation of approximately 100 residents, most from the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation. (Jeff Miller/Twitter)

"This is a big step in the right direction," said Sean Beardow, manager of corporate communications for FortisBC. "But the system is still running with less gas than we would normally have … and we're still vulnerable to high demand peaks."

The line ruptured on Oct. 9 at a rural location about 15 kilometres northeast of Prince George, causing an explosion and large fireball. No one was injured and criminal activity is not suspected, but the cause of the blast has yet to be determined.

The return-to-service plan has been reviewed by the National Energy Board and Enbridge says it's conducting a comprehensive dig to help further validate the integrity of the entire system.

Both pipelines will continue to operate at reduced capacity until a regulatory review is complete.

"We remain in regular contact with the Transportation Safety Board ... and continue to support them in their ongoing incident investigation," said the company in the news release. 

FortisBC has said natural gas supply will be reduced by 20 to 45 per cent during the coldest months of the year as a result of the pipeline fire. The utility is encouraging users to cut back on natural gas consumption.

Once the repaired segment is functioning at capacity, the system is expected to deliver between 23 and 25 million cubic metres of natural gas per day to B.C.'s Lower Mainland and the U.S. Pacific Northwest.

With files from Yvette Brend and The Canadian Press

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that, according to FortisBC, natural gas supply will be reduced by 50 to 80 per cent during the coldest months of the year. In fact, FortisBC said it will be reduced by 20 to 45 per cent.
    Nov 01, 2018 10:45 AM PT

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