B.C. pipeline explosion strands natural gas output, cuts into wellhead prices

Fortis Inc.is advising the public of a potential loss of gas supply due to the recent explosion of Enbridge's natural gas pipeline near Prince George.

Avista, the utility that supplies natural gas to much of southern and eastern OR, eastern Washington and Idaho, has asked its customers in southern OR to conserve gas to cope with the sudden shortage.

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.

Puget Sound Energy had already issued a notice on social media urging its 750,000 natural gas customers to lower their thermostats and limit hot water use at least through Wednesday, a warning Stout seconded.

Investigators are still searching for a cause of the blast just outside Prince George.

RCMP say the explosion happened at about 5:30 p.m. PT Tuesday and forced about 100 members of the nearby Lheidli T'enneh First Nation from their homes.

Violet Bazoki said she's always been anxious about the safety of pipelines running through her community, particularly the risk of an explosion or fire cutting off the only road in and out.

"I was able to see it very clearly from the hill", he said.

"That is a question that we not only need to ask the company, but also the regulators, and the province, because this sort of emergency preparedness goes in two directions", says Antweiler. "Island Health can transition from natural gas to fuel oil if necessary, but again that hasn't been asked of us".

"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.

Homebuilders are not expecting to feel any impact unless a shortage becomes a long-term problem.

An evacuation order had been downgraded Wednesday to the handful of homes near the explosion site.

Edge said Fortis estimates 75 per cent of new homes are built with natural gas heating.

"They had told me there was a gas building up in the underground".

The National Energy Board allowed Enbridge to restart the smaller line at a lower pressure, but analysts say that still leaves between 600 million and 800 million cubic feet per day of gas without an easy path to market.

Vanessa Coleman