VICTORIA – It could be the middle of November before repairs are complete on a section of a natural gas pipeline that ruptured and burned earlier this month in central British Columbia, setting off a provincewide effort to reduce gas use.
Work to fix the damaged pipeline is underway, and once it is officially cleared to operate, it should be back in service next month, Calgary-based Enbridge said in a statement Friday.
“Based on current information, Enbridge estimates that subject to regulatory approval, its 36-inch TSouth line will be repaired by mid-November, back in service at a reduced pressure of 80 per cent of normal operating pressure,” the statement said.
The pipeline ruptured on Oct. 9 at a rural location about 15 kilometres northeast of Prince George, causing an explosion and large fireball.
There were no injuries and the RCMP said it did not suspect criminal activity, but the cause of the blast has yet to be determined.
Enbridge said a second natural gas pipeline near the blast site was not damaged and it has been used to transport natural gas to southern B.C., on a reduced basis.
FortisBC, the utility supplying natural gas to about one million B.C. customers, said residential, industrial and institutional gas users should continue with conservation efforts.
Spokesman Sean Beardow said warm fall temperatures have helped keep gas usage down, but much of the credit goes to customers, large and small, who turned down thermostats and cut back on their energy consumption.
“The province as a whole has stepped up in a big way,” he said. “When we initially put out the call for people to conserve energy, we saw a really quick reduction in natural gas demand, accounting to about 20 per cent.”
Investigators from the Transportation Safety Board and the National Energy Board continue to investigate the cause of the incident.