Alberta wildfire forces evacuation, oil sands production cuts

A wildfire raging in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo nearby Fort McMurray, Alta., has forced the mandatory evacuation of tens of thousands of people from the area and has caused many oil sands operators to cut production.

“The wildfire 1 km west of Gregoire in Fort McMurray remains out of control and has burned approximately 2,650 hectares,” reported Alberta’s Agriculture and Forestry Ministry.

Suncor Inc., which owns and operates an oil sands facility 25 km north of Fort McMurray, last reported its facility was in “a safe condition” but that it would be reducing production at its regional facilities “in order to allow employees and their families to get to safety.”

Suncor said it was working with regional emergency response teams to aid in the coordination of the evacuation efforts.

Suncor said other producers in the area, including Nexen Inc. and Canadian Natural Resources, are working on their own contingency plans.

In a statement, CNR said, “We are working to ensure that any potentially affected [CNR] workers who are residents of Fort McMurray are provided support during this time. We have provided accommodation at our camp for approximately 800 people from Fort McMurray, which includes employees and their families. We have offered the support of our aerodrome services to government officials for firefighting efforts and a portion of our firefighters and equipment are in the city helping to fight fires. Many people are currently moving in and out of camp, and daily operations remain stable.”

Royal Dutch Shell PLC, meanwhile, has reportedly made its Albian Village work camp available to any Fort McMurray residents who need somewhere to stay.

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