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Utilities lift requests for conserving natural gas

October 12, 2018

A view of the Shell Puget Sound Refinery from across Padilla Bay.

Cascade Natural Gas and Puget Sound Energy are no longer asking customers to conserve natural gas and electricity following a pipeline explosion earlier this week in British Columbia.

Both companies announced Thursday morning that their natural gas systems are now running normally.

The explosion late Tuesday led to the shutdown of a pipeline system that supplies natural gas to thousands of commercial and residential customers in western Canada and the western United States.

Christopher Stockton, spokesman of U.S. fuel infrastructure company Williams, said the company’s Northwest Pipeline that delivers natural gas to customers in Washington and other states began receiving natural gas from other sources Thursday in lieu of the supply from Canada.

The Canadian company Enbrige that operates the damaged pipeline north of Vancouver, British Columbia, is also working to restore partial service, Stockton said.

For Cascade Natural Gas and Puget Sound Energy, the Northwest Pipeline’s restored supply means their systems are getting back to normal.

“Cascade’s residential and business customers can return to normal usage immediately,” the company said in a news release. “Industrial customers that curtailed usage will be able to return to normal usage over the course of today and Friday as the region’s natural gas supply continues to increase.”

Puget Sound Energy’s news release said customers who reduced their use of resources this week “were critical in helping to stabilize the system.”

“Although PSE is returning to normal operations, we will continue to monitor the natural gas system as Enbridge works on their supply pipeline,” the release said.

PSE spokeswoman Janet Kim said the utility was able to bring a natural gas storage facility that had been shut down for maintenance back online Wednesday, and that — combined with switching to other sources for electricity generation — helped bring the natural gas system back to normal.

The Shell Puget Sound and Marathon Petroleum Anacortes refineries at March Point shut down several units Wednesday in response to the pipeline situation. The refineries rely on natural gas to refine crude oil into various petroleum products. Marathon was formerly Andeavor, and before that Tesoro.

Neither refinery had announced restarting their units as of 1:30 p.m. Thursday.

“The refinery will restart process units in a safe and environmentally responsible manner as natural gas supply to the refinery is returned to normal,” Shell refinery spokesman Cory Ertel said.

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