Wildfire prompts more Canada oil sands production cuts
By Nia Williams and Eric M. Johnson
CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Oil sands producers Canadian Natural Resources Limited and Cenovus Energy shut projects and evacuated workers at Pelican Lake facilities in northern Alberta as wildfires threatened western Canadian output for the second time in a five weeks.
Cenovus shut operations and evacuated all 118 workers from its 23,000-barrel-per-day Pelican Lake project on Tuesday but said on Wednesday afternoon the fire had weakened and was not an imminent threat to facilities.
The company said 44 essential staff would be back on site during the evening and that it eyed a potential production restart for Thursday if conditions remained safe.
Canadian Natural said on Wednesday it shut in 800 barrels per day.
"The wildfire is a safe distance from our major facilities at Pelican Lake," Canadian Natural spokeswoman Julie Woo said on Wednesday. "Canadian Natural has moved non-essential personnel from our northern camp to other camps within our Pelican Lake operations."
Average production at Pelican Lake was 47,600 bpd, Woo said, citing first-quarter filings. Woo did not have an update late on Wednesday afternoon.
The fire, roughly 75 hectares (185 acres) in size, and blowing away from the facility, is some 30 km (19 miles) from the community of Wabasca, fire official Travis Fairweather said.
More than 30 personnel were fighting the blaze, backed by bulldozers and helicopters dropping flame retardant, Fairweather said. Forecasts called for a chance of rain for Wednesday, a provincial website said. Continued...