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FortisBC says natural gas supply still tight; customers respond to call to cut back use

Last Updated Oct 11, 2018 at 11:47 am PDT

FILE: A pipeline that ruptured on Oct. 9, 2018 and sparked a massive fire north of Prince George, B.C. is shown in this photo provided by Dhruv Desai. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Dhruv Desai

Gas now flowing in smaller Enbridge gas line, which was restarted following Tuesday's explosion

Hold off on the heat, says FortisBC, as "gas supply will continue to be constrained"

FortisBC saw 20% drop in gas consumption on Wednesday, after asking customers to limit their use

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – FortisBC is asking you to not touch that thermostat just yet. The natural gas supply is still tight for the entire Pacific Northwest following a pipeline explosion this week near Prince George.

Gas is now flowing in a smaller Enbridge gas line, but FortisBC is still asking customers to use as little natural gas as possible.

The official word in a statement early Thursday morning is “gas supply will continue to be constrained.”

RELATED: 700,000 FortisBC customers could lose gas service, following pipeline explosion

It appears customers have listened to FortisBC’s ask, and reduced the amount of natural gas they have been using.

“We saw gas consumption go down about 20 per cent from what we thought it was going to be yesterday. That made a big difference in us being able to work through that problem,” said Doug Stout with FortisBC.

“A big thank you to all the customers. Everybody chipped in and it did make a difference.”

A 30-inch Enbridge gas line has been restarted. That line had been shut down as a precautionary measure after its 36-inch pipeline was damaged in Tuesday’s explosion.

FortisBC hasn’t given a timeline for when all repairs will be done.

“When the system is stable, we will work to return our customers who have curtailed their gas use back on line. Until this is complete, we continue to ask our customers to avoid non-essential use of gas until the situation is completely resolved,” reads the statement.

Prince George mayor Lyn Hall said an evacuation order for about 100 people near the explosion north of the city was lifted on Wednesday and he’s waiting for a preliminary report on the cause. “Right now, our primary focus is this particular situation — this incident. We haven’t had anything like this in our area, so this really took us by surprise.”

“It is going to resurrect the conversation or start to strengthen that conversation from folks who are talking about safety of pipelines,” he added.

RELATED: Horgan asks public to conserve gas, as province, NEB launch investigation into Enbridge explosion

About a million natural gas customers in BC have been asked to avoid non-essential natural gas use and there are gas supply worries in Washington state as well.

Fortis has been asking customers to lower, if not completely turn off their thermostats.

On Wednesday, the utility warned as many as 700,000 customers could lose gas service.

 – With files from Estefania Duran