FortisBC tests ‘virtual pipeline’ following Enbridge explosion

Compressed natural gas is being shipped by truck from Princeton to Aldergrove B.C.

Between 16 and 20 trucks full of compressed natural gas will be shipped daily from the Princeton site for the next two months. Photo Andrea DeMeer

Between 16 and 20 trucks full of compressed natural gas will be shipped daily from the Princeton site for the next two months. Photo Andrea DeMeer

Natural gas from a pipeline outside of Princeton B.C. is being siphoned off and shipped by truck to Aldergrove to fuel Fortis customers in the Lower Mainland.

The project began last Thursday and will continue for the next two months, according to Tanya Laing Gair, Fortis B.C. communications officer.

The venture – which is a trial for the energy company – was made necessary by the October 9 explosion of the Enbridge natural gas pipeline near Prince George, she said.

VIDEO: Pipeline explosion causes evacuations near Prince George

Fortis is testing the “virtual pipeline” system.

“It’s almost like a pilot project.”

The Enbridge pipeline – which serves the Lower Mainland and 70 per cent of Fortis’ customers – is still only operating at 85 per cent of capacity.

Between 16 and 20 trucks leave Princeton every day for Aldergrove, where the compressed natural gas they carry is reintroduced to the Fortis system.

“It’s very much like a by-pass,” explained Laing Gair.

Each truck carries 1,000 Gigajoules of gas, which is enough to service 10 typical homes per year.

The pipeline being tapped originates in Southern Alberta, and normally supplies gas for Southern BC, she said.

Fortis is partnering with Certarus, the company moving the gas.

“They have expertise is transporting compressed natural gas…They have an excellent safety record.”

Fortis has also been in communication with local governments and emergency services organizations along the virtual pipeline.

READ MORE: Tighter safety measures ordered at B.C. site of natural gas pipeline blast

“This is a very innovative and creative solution to a problem that we didn’t anticipate,” said Laing Gair.

This week Fortis also announced the cost of natural gas in the Interior would increase by 9 per cent January 1 – about $68 per year for the average customer – as a result of the Enbridge break.

READ MORE: Natural gas rates will go up in B.C. on Jan. 1

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