Thousands shiver in Manitoba as pipeline blast cuts gas supply

Mon Jan 27, 2014 12:38pm EST
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By Rod Nickel

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - Thousands of Manitoba residents were without natural gas to heat their homes and businesses for a third frigid day on Monday, following a weekend explosion along a TransCanada Corp pipeline in the Western Canadian province.

The temperature on Monday morning in southern Manitoba hovered around -29 Celsius (-20 Fahrenheit). The electricity grid continues to operate.

The explosion and fire happened early Saturday near Otterburne, Manitoba, about 50 km (31 miles) south of the provincial capital, Winnipeg. No one was hurt in the blast, which a witness said shot flames up to 300 meters into the sky.

The incident interrupted the supply of natural gas to 4,000 residents and other customers, although TransCanada arranged for tanker trucks to deliver compressed natural gas to a hospital and nursing homes.

TransCanada was working on restoring the gas supply to the area in two stages, starting with residents and other customers north of the damaged pipeline, said Scott Powell, spokesman for Manitoba Hydro, a provincial government-owned energy company.

Powell said he could not estimate when gas might flow again, since TransCanada is handling the work, but said Monday night might be a possibility.

TransCanada did not respond to requests for comment on Monday. On Sunday afternoon, the company said it had no estimate of when gas supply will be restored.

Among those affected, privately owned Bothwell Cheese Inc was forced to halt production on Monday because its equipment relies on natural gas.   Continued...