A swath of companies have suspended their oil and gas operations in Alberta as wildfires rage across the west-central and northwest areas of the province.
The start to the fire season led Alberta to declare a state of emergency over the weekend. Blazes have forced 29,000 people from their homes since Thursday, including in key operating hubs for Alberta’s upstream oil and gas sector, such as Brazeau, Yellowhead and Grande Prairie counties.
At least 145,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day have been curtailed because of the fires.
Cenovus Energy Inc. CVE-T, one of the country’s top producers, said it has shut-in production and closed some plants in its conventional asset portfolio. The company did not give specifics, but its conventional portfolio includes various natural gas and natural gas liquid assets in areas hard hit by the wildfires. It also has interests in numerous gas processing facilities.
In the Grand Prairie region, about 450 kilometres northwest of Edmonton, Pipestone Energy Corp. PIPE-T has temporarily curtailed about 20,000 barrels a day of production. Paramount Resources Ltd. has cut production by about 50,000 barrels a day at its operations there and in the Kaybob region, to the east.
Paramount said is not aware of any significant damage or losses of its owned or third-party infrastructure.
Crescent Point has temporarily shut-in production of 45,000 barrels at its Kaybob Duvernay site, or about 29 per cent of production. The company says the move was a precautionary measure, with no damage reported to its assets.
Vermillion Energy Inc. has suspended 30,000 barrels of production at its Central Alberta operations, which are focused near the town of Drayton Valley, where residents were forced to evacuate on May 4.
Vermillion said the wildfires have caused “minimal damage” to key infrastructure, but it will continue to closely monitor the situation and risks to its operations.
Natural gas transportation has fallen significantly on the Nova Gas Transmission Line, according to a Scotiabank Global Equity research note issued Monday. The line, run by TC Energy TRP-T, connects most of the natural gas production in Western Canada to domestic and export markets.
Three major export gates have also had a reduction in natural gas flows, analysts said, even though intraprovincial demand remains in line with seasonal norms. Natural gas has been withdrawn from storage as a result.
Kiwetinohk Energy KEC-T also shut-in the majority of its Placid operations over the weekend, citing downstream third-party interruptions in proximity to the Alberta wildfires.
“We appreciate the hard work of emergency responders protecting our communities and seek to reduce any Kiwetinohk-related traffic in our areas of operations to provide priority to emergency respondents if and when needed,” the company said in a statement.
Alberta’s wildfire season is off to an aggressive start, with numerous fires threatening communities in many parts of the province. The fires have consumed roughly 391,000 hectares so far this year, compared with 417 hectares by this time last year.
“People have called this season certainly unprecedented in recent memory because we have so many fires so spread out,” Christie Tucker, an information unit manager for Alberta Wildfire, said on Sunday.
Ms. Tucker said the province has requested help from the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre and from partners in the United States. An incident management team from British Columbia was scheduled to arrive Sunday and will take over two wildfires, including one near Edson, Ms. Tucker said. Firefighters from Quebec and B.C. arrived in Alberta Saturday.
The blazes, which dot the north and east-central regions of the province, accelerated last week as Alberta’s general election campaign kicked off, putting politicians in an awkward position. United Conservative Party candidates in three ridings affected by the fires have paused campaign activities, while the New Democratic Party froze its efforts in seven ridings. The election is scheduled for May 29.
With a report from Reuters