BC Pipeline rupture and explosion on Oct. 9 impacted natural gas customers in much of British Columbia and in some of the US Pacific Northwest.  CKPGToday photo.

BC Pipeline restrictions on industrial and commercial consumers have been lifted

On Wednesday, the National Energy Board released a report on the impacts of the Oct. 9, 2018 rupture of the Enbridge BC Pipeline south of Prince George, BC.

The pipeline supplies natural gas from northeast BC to the Lower Mainland and to the United States Pacific Northwest.  Following the explosion, natural gas deliveries fell 90 per cent from 1,290 million cubic feet (MMcf) on Oct.8 to 129 MMcf on Oct. 10.

To compensate for the loss of gas from the BC Pipeline, FortisBC pumped more natural gas along its Southern Crossing Pipeline.  The NEB says gas flows on Southern Crossing approximately doubled, however, the volumes were too small to replace the significant loss in natural gas supplies following the rupture.

According to the NEB, the Southern Crossing pipeline carries a relatively small amount of natural gas into southern British Columbia from NGTL’s Alberta System.

It can transport about 100 MMcf per day of natural gas westbound through southern B.C. Along with utilizing the Southern Crossing pipeline, FortisBC dispatched trucks carrying compressed natural gas into the Lower Mainland during December.

In the section of the BC Pipeline near Prince George, there are two pipelines, a 30 inch mainline and a 36 inch loop.  Following the explosion on the 36 inch pipe, both lines were shut down.

One day after the explosion, the NEB evaluated the pipeline and determined that Enbridge could resume gas flow on the 30 inch mainline.

“Over the course of several weeks, deliveries significantly increased after additional assessments supported safely increasing pressure on certain pipeline segments,” wrote the NEB in a press release.

By December, volumes had increased to about 1,400 MMcf/d.  According to the NEB, December volumes typically average around 1,700 MMcf/d.

“The majority of the 36 inch loop is flowing gas under restricted pressure, and it will return to maximum operating pressure after the NEB concludes it is safe to do so,” says the NEB.

Restrictions originally placed on industrial and commercial consumers to curtail natural gas consumption have been lifted. However, according to FortisBC, until Enbridge’s transmission pipeline is operating at full pressure, customers should still be mindful of their energy use.