A major Enbridge Inc. in British Columbia. The natural gas pipeline has increased capacity, and Trans Mountain Pipeline Corp. says it is making progress toward getting its oil line up and running by the end of the week.
Trans Mountain closed its 1,150-km Alberta-BC oil pipeline as a precaution on November 14, citing concerns about the effects of last week’s heavy rain, flooding and landslides. Weather concerns also prompted Enbridge to shut down a section of its Westcoast natural gas line, allowing the flow to flow south to BC. limited to
As of Monday morning, the Westcoast was transporting 1.63 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day — exceeding the volume transported at this time last year.
Enbridge spokesman Jesse Semko said in an e-mail Monday that even though a section of the Westcoast Pipeline is still closed, the company has increased capacity on another part of the system.
Mr Semko said Enbridge’s ability to increase transportation along the Westcoast line was due to several years of reliability growth and expansion, including new compressor units.
Trans Mountain said in a statement on its website on Monday that it is optimistic that its pipeline will operate at some capacity by the end of the week.
Pipeline companies scramble to restore service after B.C. floods, natural gas prices soar
It said more than 350 people are working round the clock to restart the route, which supplies about 90 percent of the lower mainland’s fuel needs.
In response to oil supply cuts, the B.C. government on Friday imposed a 30-liter limit on fuel purchases for non-essential vehicles and temporary price controls for fuel in parts of the province.
Public Safety Minister Mike Farnsworth said Saturday that the province is in talks with the United States to send fuel by barge, but those deliveries will take several days.
Ron Wong, an engineering professor at the University of Calgary, said ground movement is a major design problem for pipeline engineers. But he added that risk-management plans for pipeline routes take into account geotechnical possibilities such as landslides, mudslides, avalanches, erosion and the freeze-thaw cycle in Canada’s winter.
“They will choose the least risky route, and they will bypass it to high risk areas. It’s common sense,” said Prof. Wong.
He said the biggest challenge in the case of Trans Mountain is the sheer size of the affected area.
Over the weekend, workers hiked or were airlifted to areas where there are still no roads so they could continue evaluating the pipeline. The company said ground inspections of the line should be completed by the end of the day, weather permitting. It said there is no indication that the pipeline has leaked.
Using six helicopters and 80 pieces of heavy equipment, Trans Mountain crews are clearing roads, installing temporary bridges and diverting waterways in Coquihalla and cold water areas.
The company said parts of the pipeline between Hope and Merritt needed to be rerouted, as mudslides and floods eroded the soil. It may also decide to cut and replace parts of the line (such as long stretches where river water used to flow right into the pipeline).
As a precaution, Trans Mountain said it is deploying spill-response equipment trailers where crews are working on the line, including containment booms near work sites or in downstream river areas. .
“Trans Mountain is optimistic that we can restart the pipeline at some capacity by the end of the week,” the company said.
“The keys to the successful execution of the restart plan will be equipment, fair weather, and no new findings of concern.”
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