Massive Alberta forest fires have forced Canadian Natural Resources Limited to evacuate staff and shut in production at the company’s Pelican Lake and Woodenhouse operations.
The company says it has completed a safe and temporary shut-in of approximately 65,000 barrels per day of crude oil production as a result of the fires.
According to a press release issued by the Calgary-based company, “Canadian Natural personnel are working together with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry as well as local officials during their response to the wildfire.”
Residents of Slave Lake are on an eight-hour evacuation alert as a forest fire continues to burn about 33 kilometres away from the town that was partially destroyed by a wildfire in 2011.
“Our thoughts are with our employees, their families, and our neighbours in local communities during this challenging time.”
CNRL says it will continue to monitor the situation with officials and will provide a public update when operations will safely be re-started.
Late last week, the company announced it will purchase Devon Energy’s Alberta oil sands and heavy oil operations for $3.78 billion. Devon’s 108,200 b/d Jackfish oil sands operations is adjacent to CNRL’s Kirby North and Kirby South operations. Devon’s 20,100 b/d conventional heavy oil operations are farther to the south and are surrounded by CNRL properties.
Over the weekend, evacuees from High Level learned they will be able to return to their homes on Monday after the evacuation order for their town was lifted. Residents are warned, however, that an evacuation alert will remain in place.
There are about 2,300 firefighters from across Canada fighting the Alberta forest fires and the weather is helping. “With more rain in the forecast, we’re hopeful that some of these fire intensities can come down,” provincial wildfire official Derek Gagnon told CBC News.
He added “A big rain can go a long way toward getting a fire extinguished but it’s the people working on the ground to make sure all those little hot spots are out that really are the ones that push it over that final hurdle to ensure it’s extinguished.”