The demand for natural gas as a source of heat and the need for a reliable pipeline system to transport that resource is about to spur the northern B.C. economy.
Beginning next spring, Enbridge will begin a project to install three new compressors in the Prince George region along its Transportation South (T-South) pipeline which runs from just south of Chetwynd to the United States border.
In a presentation to Prince George city council Monday night, the Calgary-based company announced its plans for the T-South reliability and expansion program, which will create as many as 300 jobs for 18-24 months.
The compressors will be placed near McLeod Lake, Summit Lake and Hixon and Prince George will be the service centre for all three construction sites.
"That's great news," said Mayor Lyn Hall, "because we know that those workers will probably keep their families here in Prince George and they'll probably live here and commute to wherever the job site is. It will also help those smaller communities near where the pipeline is close to."
The project, on land already permitted by the company, also includes a gas cooler, with compressors also to be installed at Kersley and 150 Mile House. Enbridge received approval from Canadian Energy Regulator this fall and the land where the compressors will be situated has already been cleared. The project is expected to be operational by late-2021.
In her presentation, Catherine Pennington, Enbridge's lead of Community and Indigenous Engagement provided council an update on the October 2018 natural gas pipeline rupture and explosion 13.5 kilometres north of Prince George, near the Lheidli T'enneh First Nation community.
Since that incident, Enbridge has implemented a pipeline integrity safety program with enhanced inspections using more advanced new-generation inline tools which run the length of the pipeline. The company has increased the number of integrity digs in which the pipeline is uncovered to allow detailed visual inspections. There were 144 digs conducted on the line in 2019, double that of previous years.
"At Enbridge, no incident is acceptable ever, and when an incident does occur we do take quick and decisive action to ensure the continued operation and safety of our pipeline program," said Pennington.
Since the rupture was repaired, reduced volumes of natural gas were running through the T-south pipeline and Pennigton said it was returned to full capacity in late-November.
"Undertaking this systemwide now has ensured the T-south (B.C.) pipeline is 100 per cent inspected," she said. "Every segment of the B.C. pipeline system would have experienced a tool run or multiple tool runs this last year. We commenced the inline inspection program and this new integrity program immediately following the incident, so every segment would have received an inspection tool and a new generation with double the sensors we would have seen in the past."
A lawsuit filed in February by the Lheidli T'enneh First Nation against Enbridge remains before the courts. LTFN alleges the explosion and its aftermath have "caused serious and constant distress and anguish within the Lheidli T'enneh community," also claiming the pipeline trespasses on its territory, saying Enbridge never adequately consulted the band over its construction and failed to consult with the band prior to bringing it back into operation.