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A gas pipeline explosion that led to the evacuation of 100 people on Tuesday is now forcing the residents of British Columbia and the state of Washington to cut their gas consumption as the region faces a shortage until the pipeline is repaired.
The Globe and Mail reports the explosion is being investigated by the Transportation Safety Board, noting that the blast damaged the two main pipelines, both operated by Enbridge, that bring natural gas into the FortisBC’s gas distribution system. A crude oil pipeline in the vicinity of the blast has also been shut down.
FortisBC has announced as many as 700,000 customers are facing a temporary lack of access to natural gas because of the explosion. That’s more than two-thirds of the company’s customer base. FortisBC ships as much as 85 percent of the natural gas it supplies to customers via the twin Enbridge line where the incident occurred.
To avoid an even more extensive shortage, the gas distribution system operator has asked customers that do have gas to turn down their thermostats and use their appliances that run on gas as little as possible.
The incident is very likely to have repercussions for the now notorious Trans Mountain pipeline expansion that has pitted British Columbia against neighboring Alberta. While the ruptured pipeline carries natural gas, chances are that anti-pipeline activists will waste no time in using the incident in their case against pipeline.
Despite the opposition, a large-scale LNG project, the first in Canada, just got its final investment decision, and it will involve the construction of pipelines to carry the gas to the liquefaction facility in Kitimat, in British Columbia.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.