Enbridge Inc. has received approval for a C$740 million ($555 million) renovation of its 62-year-old Westcoast Transmission natural gas pipeline in British Columbia.
The Canada Energy Regulator (CER) authorized compressor upgrades and a 15% capacity increase to 1.5 Bcf/d as requested to improve the 1,040-kilometer (650-mile) pipeline’s reliability and cater to increased provincial gas traffic.
Recommendations for more improvements may emerge from an unfinished inquiry into a rupture and explosion last October on a northern leg of Westcoast, the province’s main gas supplier, CER noted.
The explosion last year disrupted gas exports to the United States and shipments to southern parts of the province. Distributor FortisBC estimated at the time that 70% of its one million customers were vulnerable to supply losses as a result of the mishap near the northern industrial city of Prince George.
Unconventional drilling from the Montney and Duvernay formations in the region has prompted capacity expansions and increased traffic on the pipeline to 1.7-2.0 Bcf/d.
As Canada’s oldest gas export conduit, Westcoast has gone through multiple ownership changes since deliveries began in 1957. Enbridge acquired Westcoast in 2017 and sold the pipeline’s gas field gathering and processing facilities last year to Brookfield Infrastructure Partners for C$4.3 billion ($3.2 billion).