Forest fire causes Cenovus to shutter Foster Creek facilities

Cenovus Energy Inc. halted production on May 23 from its Foster Creek oil sands and Athabasca natural gas operations as a precaution due to a forest fire about 25 km south on the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range (CLAWR) in northeastern Alberta.

The company says its decision to evacuate 1,800 people off the site and shutter production was primarily made because of the fire’s proximity to the only access road to the facilities. No damage to Foster Creek system has been reported.

The restart of the facility will entirely depend on the status of the forest fire, Cenovus says. Once the fire is under control and it is deemed safe to return to site, operations will resume as soon as possible.

Foster Creek, which is jointly owned with ConocoPhillips, has gross production of 135,000 b/d, of which 67,500 b/d is net to Cenovus. Total net oil production across all of Cenovus’ assets averaged about 218,000 b/d in the first quarter. The Athabasca natural gas operation currently produces about 20 MMcfd of gas, most of which is used as fuel for Foster Creek.

The company previously reported plans to invest $700-750 million for expansions at Foster Creek (OGJ Online, Dec. 18, 2014). Phase G expansion as of January was about two-thirds complete (OGJ Online, Sept. 19, 2014).

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