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Western Price Survey

October 12, 2018
British Columbia Pipeline Blast Disrupts Western Energy Markets

The rupture of a natural gas pipeline in British Columbia on Oct. 9 and the resulting massive fire interrupted fuel flows into the Western United States, lifting Northwest power prices above $100/MWh and pushing Sumas gas values to zero.

Roughly 1 Bcf/day of natural gas imports between Canada and Washington were disrupted by the rupture of the 36-inch transmission pipeline near Prince George. The pipeline is owned and operated by Enbridge Inc., which said Oct. 12 it is investigating the incident and will repair the damaged section, but provided no timetable for the investigation or repair. A parallel, 30-inch line was initially shut down for inspection but has since restarted.

The effect on natural gas prices was short-lived, according to Martin King, director of institutional research for Calgary-based GMP FirstEnergy.

“Given the importance of such a large pipeline to the B.C. and Pac NW market, I would think they will have a full repair in place by [Oct. 19] or sooner,” King said.

Sumas flows dropped to “very little,” according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which reported the hub price as $0 on Oct. 10.

By Oct. 12, Sumas natural gas traded at $4.48/MMBtu, a 50 percent increase from the Oct. 9 hub price of $2.97/MMBtu, he said.

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Alberta natural gas dropped 71 cents between Oct. 4 and Oct. 11. Some B.C. supplies were shifted to Alberta to relieve congestion following the rupture. With warmer regional weather, these conditions might suppress Alberta prices.

Mid-Columbia daytime power jumped to $109.20/MWh, a 235 percent increase between Oct. 4 and Oct. 11. California-Oregon Border posted the highest price among Western hubs at $110/MWh. Both hubs saw a single-day increase of 203 percent between Oct. 10 and 11. Other peak power prices ranged from $32.50/MWh at Palo Verde to $50.45/MWh at North of Path 15.

Off-peak prices at the Northwest hubs reached roughly $61/MWh. Mid-C added $33.10, ending at $60.90/MWh.

California Independent System Operator demand reached 30,501 MW Oct. 8, which should be the week’s high. Northwest Power Pool demand peaked at 52,775 MW the following day.

Total renewables on the CAISO grid reached 13,004 MW Oct. 6, serving roughly 48 percent of demand. Solar peaked at 9,765 MW Oct. 8 and thermal generation reached 12,738 MW that same day, fulfilling almost 42 percent of demand.

Henry Hub natural gas spot prices fell 12 cents to $3.19/MMBtu in Thursday-to-Thursday trading.

Except for Alberta, Western gas hubs saw gains of between 9 and 69 cents. –Linda Dailey Paulson.

Archives of the Western Price Survey for the past year are also available online.

The Western Price Survey is excerpted from NewsData's comprehensive regional news services. See for yourself how NewsData reporters put events in an accurate and meaningful context -- request a sample of either or both California Energy Markets and Clearing Up.

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Contact Mavis Scanlon, editor with questions regarding Price Survey content.

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