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BC pipeline explosion risks Wash. natural gas shortage


(Update: Also could cause gas prices to spike in NW)

PRINCE GEORGE, British Columbia (AP) – A massive pipeline explosion in British Columbia risks cutting off the flow of Canadian natural gas to Washington state, and companies are urging customers to conserve.

The blast Tuesday shut down the Enbridge natural gas pipeline, about 600 miles northeast of Vancouver.

Doug Stout of Fortis BC said Wednesday that 85 percent of the gas his company feeds to homes and businesses is carried by the twinned pipeline that runs from northern British Columbia to the United States border south of Vancouver.

The damaged Enbridge pipeline connects to the Northwest Pipeline system, which feeds Puget Sound Energy in Washington State and Northwest Natural Gas in Portland.

Puget Sound Energy is urging its 750,000 customers to lower their thermostats and limit hot water use at least through Wednesday.

Meanwhile, GasBuddy says says gas prices are set to rise across the Pacific Northwest over the coming week due to the explosion, as it knocked out oil refineries in Washington state that rely on natural gas to power portions of their facilities that produce gasoline, diesel and jet fuel.

The duration of the price impact will depend on the length of time that the pipeline is out of service, but it may be at least one to two weeks, analysts said, adding, “Motorists are urged to only buy what fuel they need to limit the scope of the price increases.”

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