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Washington gas prices could rise 15 to 30 cents in wake of pipeline rupture

(AP Photo)

A ruptured pipeline in British Columbia could lead to increased gas prices for Washington residents.

RELATED: Puget Sound Energy warns customers to limit gas and electricity

“For the immediate future it looks like gas prices will start to pick up some steam,” said Gas Buddy’s Head of Petroleum Analysis, Patrick DeHaan.

Following the rupture of a Puget Sound Energy pipeline in British Columbia, Western Washington natural gas refineries were forced to temporarily shut down, and the consequences could hit Washington residents hard at the pump.

“I would say that perhaps by the end of October, if everything remains consistent between now and then, we could see prices that are probably 15 to 30 cents a gallon higher,” DeHaan told MyNorthwest.

DeHaan notes that this would mostly encompass a large swathe of Western Washington, as cities like Spokane get their supply of gas from a pipeline connected to Salt Lake City.

That said, because the western half of the state may need to resupply from the eastern half, Eastern Washington could still see an increase in gas prices anywhere from 10 to 20 cents a gallon.

While Puget Sound Energy works to repair the rupture, the effects will be felt statewide, even if the issue is resolved quickly.

“Once these refineries have been shut down, it may take them several days to get back up,” warns DeHaan.

DeHaan estimates that the uptick in gas prices could last at least a week or two, but assures us that prices will eventually go back down again once the rupture is repaired. “Say, for example, they said they were able to fix the pipeline overnight, I would say most of the impact at the pump could be mitigated pretty quickly,” he notes.

The effects of the pipeline rupture have been widespread

It’s not just gas prices that have been affected by the B.C. pipeline rupture. Because Waste Management vehicles run on natural gas, services for garbage, recycling, and yard waste collection were suspended on Thursday in Algona, Auburn, Federal Way, Kirkland, Mill Creek, Redmond, Seattle, Snoqualmie, and the unincorporated areas of King and Snohomish counties.

Waste Management collections will resume its normal schedule across King and Snohomish Counties on Friday. Commercial trash pick-up resumed Thursday afternoon.

There’s currently no timeline on a fix for the damaged pipeline, but there is at least some progress, as natural gas is now flowing again.

According to Fortis, a Canadian distributor that uses the pipeline, “more natural gas supply will gradually start to flow into gas systems of our British Columbia utility.” That said, “gas supply will continue to be constrained” until the pipeline is fully repaired.

Currently, natural gas is flowing through an alternate pipeline to get past the one that was ruptured early Tuesday in British Columbia.

Fortis advises customers to continue limiting their use of gas, electricity, and hot water. No one’s power has been shut off as of yet, as conservation efforts up to this point have been successful in mitigating the effect of the rupture.

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