(Bloomberg) -- Shifting fires across Canada’s main energy-producing province are prompting drillers to throttle back production once again, more than a week after the spate of blazes began, and officials have warned of worsening conditions in the days ahead.
Crescent Point Energy Corp., Baytex Energy Corp. and Kiwetinohk Energy Corp. all announced new shutdowns in Alberta in recent days, and the latter two said they’ve also evacuated personnel from affected areas.
While the total number of active wildfires in Alberta declined to 87 on Tuesday morning, down from 90 on Monday afternoon, the number of out-of-control blazes ticked up by one to 24.
Extreme heat and dry conditions across much of Alberta mean fires “can start and spread easily anywhere in the province,” Christie Tucker, a spokeswoman for Alberta Wildfire, said at a press conference on Monday. 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 on 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 destroying whole sections of Fort McMurray, the biggest city in the region. This month’s blazes have largely spared the oil sands, but they’ve hammered the province’s drought-stricken west.
Below is a summary of operational updates from companies working in the area:
- Crescent Point is shutting in the remainder of its 45,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day of Kaybob Duvernay production due to the fires. No damage to its assets has been reported.
- Kiwetinohk said a fire to the north of its Simonette operations is out of control, and it has halted operations, secured plants and removed staff. About 18,000-20,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day of output is affected, but there’s been no damage to infrastructure. Meanwhile, Kiwetinohk has restored two-thirds of output at its Placid site after third-party infrastructure resumed service.
- Baytex Energy Corp. shut around 20,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day of production starting May 13 as fires hamper operations in the Peace River and Peavine regions. Also, about 4,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day remains shut since May 5 due to third-party infrastructure constrictions.
--With assistance from Robert Tuttle.
(Updates with new outages in second paragraph)
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