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Alberta wildfires slash Canadian oil production by a third

06 May 2016

The wildfires that are raging unchecked around the city of Fort McMurray in the heart of the Canadian oil sands producing region have reduced the nation's daily oil production capacity by as much as a third and closed some major pipelines, according to a report by Reuters.

A mountie patrolling a devastated suburb of Fort McMurray - Image: RCMP Alberta
A mountie patrolling a devastated suburb of Fort McMurray - Image: RCMP Alberta

Although oil sands plant and facilities have not been directly affected by the fires, seven production companies and two pipeline operators have curbed activities to allow staff and their families to get to safety.  At least 640,000 barrels per day of capacity was offline on May 5, according to Reuters' calculations.

Facilities now closed include ConocoPhillips’ Surmount operations, Nexen Energy’s Long Lake facility, Suncor Energy’s main mining site, Royal Dutch Shell’s Muskeg River and Jackpine oil sands mines and Husky Energy’s Sunrise project.

Connacher’s Great Divide operations and the Syncrude oil sands project, owned by a consortium of companies including Suncor, have reduced production by a significant amount.

Companies saying they were not affected on May 5 included Canadian Natural Resources, Cenovus, Exxon Mobil subsidiary Imperial, Statoil ASA, MEG Energy and Athabasca Oil Corp.

Pipeline companies said to be closing down systems near Fort McMurray included Enbridge and Inter Pipeline.

On May 6, CBC said officials estimated half the structures within Fort McMurray had been destroyed, with whole neighbourhoods in ruins.

Some facilities within the city have been defended by firefighters and are still standing, including the airport, water treatment plant and hospital.

Wildfires in the province of Alberta now cover 850 sq km and neighbouring communities have also received mandatory evacuation orders, including Anzac, Gregoire Lake Estates and Fort McMurray First Nation.

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