Pacific Northwest gas prices could spike after pipeline explosion

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The fiery blast happened Tuesday in Prince George, British Columbia, shutting down the Enbridge natural gas pipeline about 600 miles northeast of Vancouver.

Hundreds of residents at a Vancouver apartment complex will soon find themselves without heat or hot water after a pipeline explosion in B.C.'s Interior that put two natural gas lines out of commission earlier this week.

The City of Prince George says it activated its Emergency Operations Centre and remains prepared to deliver emergency support if needed.

The company isolated and depressurized a 36-inch pipeline, which carries gas to the Pacific Northwest, after it ruptured on Tuesday evening causing gas to ignite. "Minimize the use of hot water if you have a natural gas hot water tank ... so we preserve the gas we have for as long as possible", said Stout.

The company is still asking customers through the province to avoid non essential use of gas until both lines of the twinned pipeline are up and running.

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Although the gasoline you pump into your vehicle is different than the natural gas in the pipelines, the natural gas is used to power oil refineries.

McTeague said gas prices on Vancouver Island will likely remain inflated for a week or two until the damaged pipeline is repaired.

"There is a potential impact on Seattle and north of Seattle", he said. "We'll know better when we look at it ourselves".

Thousands of FortisBC customers would be without natural gas without the pipeline.

Alberta and B.C. gas prices had jumped in recent weeks thanks to more demand because of unusually cold weather in Alberta.

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"About 70 per cent of customers could be impacted here", said Douglas Stout, vice-president of external relations with FortisBC.

The Transportation Safety Board is still investigating, with support from Enbridge and the NEB.

A larger, 36-inch line that ruptured Tuesday remains out of service with no timeframe for fix, which is limiting the supply of natural gas in the north, southwestern B.C., and Vancouver Island.

The natural gas supply disruption saw major industries and institutions switch energy sources, reduce operations or shut down temporarily.

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