The last week has been a challenging one for many communities in southern Manitoba after a fire broke out on TransCanada’s pipeline south of Winnipeg last Saturday morning and 3,600 homes and businesses were left without natural gas during the coldest days of winter.
As the provider of the gas to these communities for decades, we view the residents of the rural municipalities of Hanover, Ritchot, La Broquerie and De Salaberry, including the communities of Ste. Agathe, Niverville, New Bothwell, Kleefeld, Otterburne, Marchand, St. Malo, St-Pierre-Jolys, Grunthal and Dufrost, as our neighbours.
These are towns that are the closest to our pipelines, and we have had good relationships with the landowners and community leaders in this area for more than 50 years.
“First and foremost, I would like to apologize to thousands of our neighbours who were impacted by the failure of our pipeline.”
I am deeply sorry for the impact this disruption in natural gas service has caused you and your communities. You have my greatest thanks for your support and patience as we worked to ensure the safety of everyone in the area and restore the heat to your homes.
As our President of Natural Gas Pipelines Karl Johannson said earlier this week during a media briefing (PDF, 98 KB) in Ile-des-Chênes, Man., we have been heartened to hear how the people in these communities came together to help their neighbours and assist emergency responders, Manitoba Hydro employees and our staff.
Everyone at TransCanada can appreciate the hardship many families and businesses have endured over the last few days. We take our responsibility of safely transporting natural gas very seriously, and we are committed to compensating everyone for the direct costs they incurred due to the inconvenience related to the disruption of natural gas service.
I would also like to thank Manitoba Hydro and its staff for working alongside TransCanada to restore regular natural gas service as quickly and as safely as possible. Your dedication to working with every household to inform them how to stay warm safely, and restarting hundreds of furnaces over the last few days has been truly heroic.
“And of course, my deepest gratitude also goes out to the local police, fire departments, municipal government staff and other emergency responders, who were the first on the ground when the fire broke out early Saturday morning and they helped establish warming stations to get people out of the cold.”
I can assure you that TransCanada mobilized every resource at our disposal. Hundreds of our employees and contractors from across the country have been working around the clock, in difficult weather conditions, to excavate the line, remove the impacted sections of pipe, make repairs, and load and test the repaired pipe in order to get the heat back on. Your efforts under the most strenuous of circumstances are greatly appreciated.
We do not expect any further interruptions to regular natural gas service for any of these communities as we continue to make repairs to the affected pipeline.
Manitoba Hydro personnel continue to visit homes door-to-door to confirm gas service has been re-established for each customer and to relight pilot lights, if necessary. For further updates on restoration of service, please visit the Manitoba Hydro website, or follow them on Twitter @ManitobaHydro. You can also follow @TransCanada for the latest pipeline updates.
Many people have rightly asked what the cause of this pipeline failure was. At this point, we simply do not know. It is going to take some time to determine the root cause. Material from the site must be collected and sent to labs for analysis, and detailed investigations by TransCanada, in cooperation with the Transportation Safety Board and the National Energy Board, will look at all of the factors that led to this rare and unfortunate event.
“Pipelines continue to be the safest method of transporting the huge volumes of natural gas and crude oil that must be moved throughout Canada and the U.S. every day. The safety of the public, our employees and protection of the environment is a top priority at TransCanada.”
In more than 60 years that TransCanada has operated pipelines, there have been no injuries to members of the public as a result of our operations. Our pipeline incident rate is lower than the industry average in Canada and the United States, but we know that we have to keep improving because no pipeline failures are acceptable. Our goal is always to have zero incidents of this kind.
We look at every incident such as this as an opportunity to learn and make improvements to our pipeline systems. What we learn from our investigation will be used to make our pipeline network stronger and safer. I can assure you that no one has a stronger interest than TransCanada in making sure that our pipelines are designed, constructed and operated safely and reliably. The public and our shareholders expect it and that is what we will deliver.