PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. – Enbridge Inc. says it has successfully completed repairs on the section of a natural gas pipeline that ruptured and burned near Prince George, B.C., three weeks ago.
The company says following a comprehensive integrity assessment, it expects to begin safely returning the repaired segment to service within the next two days.
It says it will gradually increase flows of natural gas through the repaired segment until it reaches 80 per cent of its normal operating pressure.
A smaller pipeline nearby returned to service two days after the explosion, also at 80 per cent of its normal pressure, which the company says helps ensure the ongoing safety and integrity of the system.
Once the repaired segment is returned to service, Enbridge says the system is expected to safely 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.
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.
The company says until it’s fully satisfied it is safe to operate the lines at full capacity, and subject to regulatory review, both pipelines will continue to operate at reduced pressure.
“We appreciate the support of the local communities, the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation, and government officials throughout British Columbia during this process,” it says in a news release. “We remain in regular contact with the Transportation Safety Board … and continue to support them in their ongoing incident investigation.”
It adds there are a number of assumptions, risks and uncertainties that might delay its plans for returning the pipeline to service.
The line 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.
One of the province’s largest utilities, FortisBC, has said natural gas supply will be reduced by 50 to 80 per cent during the coldest months of the year.
The utility said keeping homes warm is its top priority as it manages a reduced supply in the coming months and it’s encouraging all users to conserve energy.