NW Natural Gas Supply Restored After Canadian Pipeline Explosion

Oct 10, 2018

UPDATE: THURSDAY, OCT. 11, 4:30 p.m. -- Utilities in Oregon and Washington have told their customers they can resume normal use of natural gas. They'd asked users to conserve yesterday, after a pipeline in Canada exploded, disrupting the flow of gas to much of the Northwest. The blast disrupted natural gas deliveries from British Columbia to southern Oregon.

Enbridge, the Canadian company which operates the twin gas pipelines that supply about half of the region's natural gas, has re-opened the smaller of the two lines. It was shut down as a precaution after the larger pipeline exploded on Tuesday evening.

Following the explosion, the Spokane-based utility Avista yesterday asked its customers in southern Oregon to turn down thermostats and use less hot water in an effort to prevent service outages.  Avista says its customers in Roseburg, Grants Pass, Medford and Ashland were the ones mainly affected by the disruption.

Southern Oregon University was one of the industrial customers asked by Avista to curtail their gas consumption. The university switched its heating and hot water sustem to diesel, but has since switched back to gas, after getting the go-ahead from the utility.

Puget Sound Energy and Cascade Natural Gas, two major utilities in Washington, also have told their customers they can resume normal usage.

Customers in British Columbia, however, are still dealing with limited supplies, with no relief immediately in sight.

The company says it's investigating the cause of the rupture . It has no timeline for repair and re-opening the damaged section. 

WEDNESDAY, OCT. 10, 9:45 p.m. -- A massive explosion of a natural gas pipeline near Prince George, British Columbia has led utilities from Canada to southern Oregon to ask customers to reduce their gas consumption to try to avoid potential loss of service.

Enbridge, the Calgary, Alberta-based company which operates the pipeline, says the pipeline supplies about half the natural gas used in Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

The explosion was reported about 5:45 Tuesday evening, when a 36-inch diameter gas pipeline ruptured and the gas ignited, sending a fireball and smoke into the sky. The fire has since been extinguished. There were no reported injuries.

Avista, the utility that supplies natural gas to much of southern and eastern Oregon, eastern Washington and Idaho, has asked its customers in southern Oregon to conserve gas to cope with the sudden shortage.  Avista requested commercial users to cut back, and the company sent an email Wednesday to its residential customers, as well, urging them to lower thermostats and reduce use of hot water, two of the largest uses for natural gas in the home.

Facility managers at Southern Oregon University say they've turned off their gas-fired heating plant and are using diesel fuel until the shortge is resolved.

Puget Sound Energy in Washington state and Northwest Natural Gas in Portland are affected by the gas supply disruption, as well. More than 3 million customers in Canada and the US have been impacted.

Enbridge has no estimated time yet for when gas supplies will resume.