Pipeline blast forces FortisBC to the open market for natural gas supply


VANCOUVER — FortisBC is looking at several options to boost its stock of natural gas in an effort to get its customers through the winter after a pipeline blast squeezed off supply.

Sean Beardow, manager of corporate communications with Fortis, says the flow through the Enbridge pipeline that exploded in flames near Prince George last month has reached about 55 per cent, far below what they’ll need this winter.

He says the company is getting more fuel from an Alberta pipeline and has received permission from the B.C. Utilities Commission to purchase natural gas on the open market.

He says they’re looking at on the spot market to import compressed and liquefied natural gas.

Enbridge has said it wants to get its pipeline capacity up to 80 per cent after the unexplained explosion, but Beardow says that won’t be enough to get them through the winter, especially if it’s cold.

Beardow is urging customers to help save, saying even small things can make a difference collectively.

“Eighty per cent can sound like it’s really good but the fact is that during the winter months, we use 100 per cent of what we get from the Enbridge transmission system,” he says.

He says they’re preparing for a potential acute shortage and are asking customers to step up their conservation measures.

“There’s not a single tipping point because really we’re looking at a number of variables that could affect gas supplies,” he says, adding weather and customer demand will be key factors.

Companies in this story: (TSX:FTS)

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