Firms resume, ramp up Alberta operations after wildfires

One month after massive wildfires forced evacuations in northern Alberta, oil companies are slowly resuming operations.

ConocoPhillips Canada said June 7 it has resumed production at the Surmont oil sands site and expects to ramp up to pre-shutdown levels of 150,000 b/d. It had shut down operations May 5.

Suncor Energy Inc. said June 6 it is ramping up operations “in a staged manner” in the regional municipality of Wood Buffalo and expects to be producing at normal rates by the end of June. Its base plant operations were expected to be at “pre-fire production rates within a week.” Suncor had shut operations May 8, but on May 29 said it had begun a “staged restart.”

On June 3, Shell Canada Ltd. and Imperial Oil Ltd. reported resumption of operations at Albian Sands and Kearl, respectively (OGJ Online, June 6, 2016).

However, Cenovus Energy Inc. on June 7 shut 23,000 b/d of heavy oil production at Pelican Lake because of a wildfire 1 km from its main complex. More than a hundred people were evacuated, but essential staff returned June 9. Also at Pelican Lake, Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. shut 800 b/d of production and moved nonessential personnel from its northern camp. The sites are about 400 km southwest of Fort McMurray.

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