(Bloomberg) -- A resurgence of wildfires across Canada’s main energy-producing province in recent days prompted some drillers to suspend portions of their production again, and officials are warning of worsening conditions in the days ahead.
There were 90 active wildfires in Alberta as of Monday afternoon, with 23 considered out of control, Christie Tucker, a spokeswoman for Alberta Wildfire, said at a press conference. That compares with 87 active fires on Sunday and 76 on Friday.
Extreme heat and dry conditions across much of Alberta mean fires “can start and spread easily anywhere in the province,” Tucker said. Shifting winds, with gusts as fast as 50 kilometers (30 miles) per hour, may lead to unpredictable fire behavior, she said.
“We are not out of the woods,” Tucker said. “I don’t believe the worst is behind us.”
More than 2,500 people, including 900 from outside of the province, were fighting fires across Alberta Monday. More than 17,000 residents had been evacuated, said Colin Blair, executive director of the Alberta Emergency Management Agency.
In 2016, wildfires tore through Alberta’s oil sands, shutting down more than 1 million barrels of daily crude production and razing whole sections of Fort McMurray, the biggest city in the oil-sands region. This month’s blazes have largely spared the oil sands, but they’ve hammered the province’s drought-stricken west.
Paramount Resources Ltd. and Pipestone Energy Corp. both temporarily halted some output starting Friday after blazes resurfaced and shut down third-party gas-processing facilities they use.
The return of the fires pushed up the price of natural gas at the province’s AECO hub by 21% to C$2.55 per million British thermal units. The discount for heavy Western Canadian Select crude versus Nymex oil futures narrowed 35 cents to $12.50 a barrel on Monday, the smallest in more than a year.
Crude inventories across monitored sites in western Canada are sitting at 30.69 million barrels, according to data from geoanalytics firm Kayrros SAS. That’s broadly steady from May 1, but about 2 million barrels below volumes on April 15.
Below is a summary of operational updates from companies working in the area:
- Paramount Resources said it again temporarily cut 45,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day of production in the Grande Prairie and Kaybob regions Friday. It also said the third-party Wapiti natural gas processing facility was halted that day.
- Pipestone Energy said around 20,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day production has been temporarily curtailed since Friday.
- Vermilion Energy Inc. has restored 60% of the roughly 30,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day it shut this month in response to wildfires. The company cut its second-quarter output targets because of the fires.
--With assistance from Robert Tuttle.
(Updates fire numbers in second paragraph)
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