November 8, 2018 / 2:24 PM / a year ago

Natgas prices at Sumas Hub in Washington hit 4-yr high as weather cools

Nov 8 (Reuters) - Next-day natural gas prices at the Sumas hub on the border between Washington state and British Columbia rose to their highest in over four years on forecasts for cooler, near-normal weather in the Pacific Northwest.

That follows a week of mostly above-normal temperatures.

Prices in the region have been elevated since the amount of gas flowing from British Columbia to Washington was cut after one of Enbridge Inc’s Westcoast pipes in British Columbia was damaged in an explosion on Oct. 9.

The amount of gas flowing from British Columbia to Washington through the Sumas hub was expected to decline to around 0.3 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) on Thursday from an average of 0.5 bcfd since the pipe blast.

That compares with average flows of 1.1 bcfd during the 30 days prior to the pipe blast.

Enbridge started to return the damaged 36-inch (91.4 centimeter) pipe to service on Oct. 31 and expects to slowly increase flows to 80 percent of normal operating pressure by mid-November. The company said it would test the 36-inch pipe and an adjacent 30-inch pipe that is also operating at 80 percent of normal pressure to determine when it can restore both pipes to full pressure.

At their reduced flows, Enbridge estimated the system can deliver up to 0.9 bcfd of gas to customers in British Columbia and the U.S. Pacific Northwest.

One billion cubic feet of gas is enough to fuel about 5 million U.S. homes for a day.

Prices for Thursday at the Sumas hub NG-PX-HUN-SNL rose to $17.03 per million British thermal units (mmBtu), their highest since February 2014.

Since the blast, next-day prices at Sumas have averaged $6.95/mmBtu. That compares with an average of $2.12/mmBtu since the start of the year before the blast, $2.60 in calendar 2017 and a five-year (2013-2017) average of $3.03.

High temperatures in Seattle, the biggest city in Washington, were forecast to reach just 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 Celsius) on Thursday and 48 on Friday, down from a recent high of 62 on Sunday, according to AccuWeather. The normal high in Seattle at this time of year is 54 degrees.

In British Columbia, meanwhile, the Fortis BC gas utility continued to urge customers to conserve energy until supplies from the Enbridge pipes return to normal.

Fortis BC is a unit of Canadian energy company Fortis Inc . (Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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