Enbridge Inc. predicted that natural gas deliveries will resume in mid-November after completion of repairs to a northern pipeline fracture that has disrupted supplies in British Columbia (BC) and the northwestern United States since early October.
Although the cause of the Oct. 9 rupture, explosion and fire on a remote leg of Enbridge’s Westcoast Transmission system has not yet been identified, a Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment near Prince George said there was no evidence that criminal activity might be to blame.
Service will initially be restored to 80% of capacity after a 36-inch diameter section of pipe is replaced, Enbridge said. A second, 30-inch diameter section of pipe in the right-of-way went back online on Oct. 11 after a pause for a safety inspection.
The incident ignited price and sales increases for American natural gas production, but it was a commercial disaster for Canadians. The mishap disrupted BC exports that averaged 1.1 Bcf/d in the first half of 2018, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
American consumers felt a pinch at gasoline pumps because northwestern U.S. refineries had to curtail operations that use natural gas as fuel for plant heat processes. The Canadian natural gas interruption amplified an upward trend at the pumps driven by rising crude oil prices.
“On Oct. 15, the Monday following the pipeline rupture, the retail price of gasoline in Seattle rose nine cents per gallon from the previous week’s value, the largest weekly increase since mid-2015,” EIA said. “Also on that day, Seattle’s regular retail gasoline price was $3.48 per gallon, or about 60 cents per gallon more than the U.S. average.”
With both pipelines in the BC gas right-of-way likely to be restricted to four-fifths of capacity, Enbridge predicted traffic flow will range from 900 MMcf/d to 1.3 Bcf/d during the upcoming heating season.
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