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Pipeline explosion risks Washington natural gas shortage

Pipeline explosion risks Washington natural gas shortage

PRINCE GEORGE, British Columbia (AP) -- A massive pipeline explosion in British Columbia risks cutting off the flow of Canadian natural gas to Washington State, and companies are urging customers to conserve.

The blast Tuesday shut down the Enbridge natural gas pipeline about 600 miles northeast of Vancouver.

According to Gas Buddy, gas prices are set to rise across the Pacific Northwest over the coming week due to this explosion. The duration of the price change will depend on how long the pipeline is out of service, but it may be at least one to two weeks.

The Shell Puget Sound Refinery in Anacortes and other oil refineries are shutting down because they need a steady supply of natural gas to refine crude oil into gasoline - and that will almost certainly drive up the cost of gas at the pump, experts say.

The damaged Enbridge pipeline connects to the Northwest Pipeline system, which feeds Puget Sound Energy in Washington State and Northwest Natural Gas in Portland.

Doug Stout of Fortis BC said Wednesday that 85 percent of the gas his company feeds to homes and businesses is carried by the twinned pipeline that runs from northern British Columbia to the United States border south of Vancouver.

Puget Sound Energy is urging its 750,000 customers to lower their thermostats and limit hot water use at least through Wednesday.

Gas Buddy is also encouraging Washington drivers to only buy the gas they need to limit the scope of the price increases.

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