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Oil storage tanks at Pelican Lake.

Rene Michaud - Bliss Photographi/Cenovus

Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. has restarted some production at heavy oil operations in Northern Alberta after temporarily halting output and removing staff because of wildfires in the region.

The company said it has resumed normal operations at its Pelican Lake site, including the restart of 800 barrels a day of production that was suspended as a precaution.

The 49,000 barrel-per-day operation is southwest of Fort McMurray in Alberta's Wabasca area. "The wildfire remains a safe distance from our operation," spokeswoman Julie Woo said.

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Meanwhile, essential staff have returned to Cenovus Energy Inc.'s facility in the region to assess whether it is safe to restart operations, a spokesman said. The company halted production of about 23,000 barrels per day Tuesday and evacuated staff after a small fire came within one kilometre of the site.

Cenovus said Wednesday the fire was downgraded by officials and was estimated at about 75 hectares in size. It is not considered an imminent threat to the operation.

By Thursday, Cenovus said it was in the process of restarting oil production. It said the fire in the vicinity of the site continues to burn, but is being held by emergency responders.

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