Safety through technology
We are currently upgrading our gas lines in BC’s Northern, Interior and Kootenay regions to enhance our ability to carry out proactive maintenance as part of our Inland Gas Upgrades project. These upgrades will allow us to use in-line inspection tools and gather detailed information about the condition of our gas lines so we are able to better plan and manage maintenance.
In order to run this equipment in our system, we need to ensure clear passage for these tools and this means replacing valves and other fittings, as well as reducing bends in the lines.
Work began in 2020 and is expected to continue over the next four years. Overall, this project will upgrade 29 of our existing natural gas lines with work taking place in the Northern, Thompson-Okanagan, Cariboo and Kootenay regions of BC.
It's a huge milestone to see the Inland Gas Upgrades project come to life now that we've kicked off construction. We are that much closer to the advancements this project will achieve for safety and reliability, building on our excellent record in each of these areas.
Safety at our facilities
Our Tilbury liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility in Delta, BC has been operating safely for 50 years. We take this record seriously, ensuring we regularly conduct safety and seismic inspections at Tilbury and all FortisBC facilities. But we do more than inspections. We proactively ensure our facilities, including Tilbury, meet or exceed government and industry codes and standards.
For example, our 2018 expansion at the Tilbury LNG facility was done with an eye to the potential risks from seismic events like earthquakes and floods. The expansion included construction of an above-ground full containment storage tank that has become an industry standard and can withstand anticipated flood levels. We also enhanced the dyke in the area where the Tilbury LNG facility site meets the Fraser River, through increasing the crest elevation and improving the dyke's stability during a seismic event using stone columns and piles.
LNG facility codes, standards and regulations are in place to keep everyone safe, even when an incident occurs. That’s why we follow – if not exceed – the standards, codes and regulations at all our current facilities and will continue to do the same in future construction.
Safety enhancements through upgraded gas meter technology
We are planning to upgrade our gas meters to new advanced meters, as we work to modernize the system we use to deliver natural gas to our more than one million customers. The existing meter technology used in BC hasn’t fundamentally changed in more than 100 years. Advanced gas meters will use sound waves to measure gas use and send it to us over a wireless network.
The new meters will allow us to add new safety features, such as the ability to remotely detect and respond to gas leaks including in the event of an emergency.
We’re in the process of applying to our regulator the British Columbia Utilities Commission and – if approved – plan to start upgrading customer gas meters in 2023.
Our gas system has a great safety record and upgrading to advanced gas meters will put more tools in our toolbox to ensure we continue to safely and reliably deliver natural gas to our customers for decades to come.