(Bloomberg) -- The wildfire situation in Canada’s top energy-producing province of Alberta remained volatile Saturday, while the disruptions to oil and gas production now have buyers facing supply cuts.
At least two buyers were notified this week of force majeures and cuts of 5% or more to their receipts of low-sulfur Canadian crude this month, according to people familiar with the matter. Pembina Pipeline Corp. also declared force majeure on its Peace Pipeline system, which carries natural gas liquids from western oil and gas fields to the Edmonton area, according to two people who received the notice.
In all, the equivalent of about 240,000 barrels of daily oil and gas production — and perhaps more than 300,000 barrels — have been shut due to the fires, consultant Rystad Energy estimates. A total of 86 wildfires were burning in Alberta as of Saturday evening, down by seven from Friday, while the number of out-of-control blazes was steady at 26, provincial data show.
More than 2,800 firefighters from Canada and the US are on the ground, dealing with hot, dry and gusty conditions, Christie Tucker, a spokeswoman for Alberta Wildfire, said Saturday.
Rain and cooler weather are anticipated in the next days, but a lot depends on where that rain falls. “While showers will certainly be welcomed by firefighters, we monitor thunderstorms very carefully,” Tucker said, as lightning strikes might start new fires.
A wildfire crossed Highway 43 near Fox Creek, 260 kilometers (162 miles) northwest of Edmonton, on Thursday and flames were still close to the town, Tucker said. The area is a major center for drilling light oil and gas in the Duvernay shale formation.
The disruptions are already weighing on oil inventories at one critical hub. Storage tanks in Edmonton, which is closer to the blazes than Alberta’s other major hub of Hardisty, were holding 18.1 million barrels as of May 13, according to geospatial industry-data provider Ursa Space Systems. That’s down from 19.7 million at the start of May. Volumes at Hardisty are holding broadly steady.
The situation is also starting to weigh on economic forecasts for Canada. ATB Financial estimated on Friday that the infernos may trim 0.1% to 0.3% off the country’s real gross domestic product this month.
So far, the blazes have mostly struck the gas-producing region of western Alberta, although ConocoPhillips did report some brief evacuations at its Surmont oil-sands site.
--With assistance from Mathieu Dion.
(Updates with the latest information as of Saturday)
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