A state of emergency was declared in northern Alberta on Friday due to extremely low natural gas pressures through the region, but SaskEnergy says it’s well-guarded against something similar happening here.
More than 11,000 residents in the Mackenzie County area — bordering British Columbia and the Northwest Territories —were advised to use alternate sources of heat during the outages.
The alert was lifted Thursday morning
So how can Saskatchewan residents be sure they won’t find themselves in the same situation?
“It’s planning, and it’s planning ahead,” said Dave Burdeniuk, manager of communications with SaskEnergy.
With just over 400,000 customers, Burdeniuk said SaskEnergy plans accordingly by looking at population growth trends and “the worst weather we can get” over the past 30 years.
Sask. withstood the cold
A major contributing factor in Alberta’s outage was the cold snap.
Environment Canada indicated temperatures in the Mackenzie County area sat around -37.3 C (feeling like -48 C with the wind chill) on Friday — similar to the frigid cold that spread across many parts of Saskatchewan through the holidays.
“It can happen — but there are so many natural gas wells to access, it has never been a major concern for us,” Burdeniuk said about the likelihood of the same alert occurring in Saskatchewan.
“We also bring gas into the province from a number of different points and from different shippers in Alberta — so if one shipper has a problem, odds are the other one doesn’t,” he added.
In contrast, northwest Alberta is only serviced by a single pipeline.
“We were at the mercy of one source,” said John Klassen, board member for Northern Lights Gas Co-op, which services natural gas to the Mackenzie County.
He said that was a large part of the problem in Alberta.
In the event of an emergency, SaskEnergy has 18 underground storage caverns located around the province.
Each cavern is approximately the size of Regina’s Mosaic Stadium tipped on its side,…