Pipeline Explosion Causes Gas Shortage In British Colombia

The explosion has knocked out oil refineries in Washington state that rely on natural gas to power the facilities.

"The duration of the price impact will depend on the length of time that the pipeline is out of service", GasBuddy said in a release.

The company serves just over a million customers across the province, from the Lower Mainland to Northern B.C.

There are no indications that the explosion was criminal in nature, Prince George RCMP said in a written statement.

That pipeline as well as a neighbouring gas line had to be shut off while crews work to fix the rupture.

The UBC bulletin says although gas use should still be restricted, "UBC buildings that use natural gas for heating, hot water and cooking are no longer expected to be impacted".

Prices at the main interior B.C. trading hub have crashed to about $1 per thousand cubic feet from around $2.60 before the incident, said commodity analyst Martin King of GMP FirstEnergy.

The company was able to pull additional gas from Alberta through the Southern Crossing Pipeline, which runs close to the US border.

Some gas is still being brought in from Alberta across the southern Interior.

"Approximately 100 people in the Lheidli T'enneh First Nation in the vicinity have been evacuated as a precaution".

"That could put us on course to gas prices going to 161.9 cents/litre tomorrow and then up another two cents to 163.9", he noted."That would be a record price".

"We've lived there for most of our lives, since the pipelines were built, and we never had any concerns with the pipeline until now".

Two members of the Transportation Safety Board are en route to Prince George now to investigate the ruptured line.

"We had curtailed service or shut off service to a lot of industrial customers, so they come off first", FortisBC spokesperson Doug Stout said.

"Safety is always our top focus and top priority".

National Energy Board chief engineer Iain Colquhoun explained his organization's role is to make sure Enbridge is handling the situation properly, as well as ensuring no other pipelines in the area are at risk.

"I am of course much aware that we're living in an quake prone zone, where disruptions could occur, for not only the reason of accidents, but also for disasters that occur naturally, like earthquakes", he says.

With files from Yvette Brend, Andrew Kurjata and The Early Edition.

Vanessa Coleman