CALGARY — The shut down of energy facilities accelerated Thursday, taking off line about one million barrels — close to 40 per cent — of Alberta’s daily oilsands production, as a wildfire that started near Fort McMurray spread south to new producing areas. Meanwhile, oil companies poured their resources into the firefighting effort — from sheltering evacuees to helping with medical emergencies.
Overnight Wednesday, the raging fire forced the evacuation of smaller communities south of Fort McMurray, where many evacuees fleeing the flames this week had taken shelter. They joined residents of Fort McMurray, who were ordered to leave their homes earlier in the week.
“Based on press releases and our discussions with producers, the fires have impacted oilsands production by an estimated 0.9 to 1 million b/d — disproportionately weighted towards synthetic crude oil,” Greg Pardy, co-head of global energy research at RBC Dominion Securities Inc., said in a report. “This would constitute about 35 per cent to 38 per cent of our 2016 oilsands outlook of 2.6 million b/d.”
Steve Laut, president of Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., said it was difficult to gauge the long-term impacts of the crisis because it was still evolving.
“It’s devastating to the city of Fort McMurray,” he said Thursday after addressing the company’s annual meeting.Many production facilities are located away from the fire, but “it’s really the workers at the mines and the plants who live in Fort McMurray who are impacted,” Laut said.
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