Wild fires forcing oil and gas companies to take pause

Oil and gas companies were shutting down their operations — or thinking about doing so — as wild fires continued to wreak havoc in northern Alberta on Monday.

CALGARY — Oil and gas companies were shutting down their operations — or thinking about doing so — as wild fires continued to wreak havoc in northern Alberta on Monday.

Penn West Exploration (TSX:PWT) is active in the area surrounding Slave Lake, Alta., a town that has been devastated by the fast-moving flames.

The Calgary-based company has shut in between 25,000 and 30,000 barrels per day of production, chief executive officer William Andrew said in an interview.

“We’re just allowing the firefighters to do their best,” he said.

Just over 100 Penn West staff live in the region and are all safe and accounted for.

Penn West is planning to do a fly-over of its facilities to take stock of the damage.

“We’re not putting anybody on the ground yet. We don’t want to take that chance — just sort of in and out with a helicopter, sort of see what’s going on,” Andrew said.

Penn West won’t restart its operations until it gets the all-clear from authorities.

“Basically it’s a situation right now to try to get these fires under control and then we’ll get in and look at the integrity of our operations and bring them back up slowly and safely,” Andrew said.

Meanwhile, Exall Energy Corp. (TSX:EE) said it has shut in 921 barrels of oil equivalent daily production at its Marten Mountain site.

It had a look at its operations from the air and found they have not been damaged by the fires and did not appear to be under threat.

“The fires currently appear to be south and east of Exall’s Marten Mountain operations. Exall plans to visit Marten Mountain several times over the next few days in an attempt to monitor the situation,” the company said in a release Monday.

Cenovus Energy Inc. (TSX:CVE) produces oil from its Pelican Lake operation, about 90 kilometres northeast of Slave Lake.

So far, it has continued to produce 22,000 barrels per day of crude from that oil pool, said spokeswoman Rhona DelFrari.

However, the company has had to put that oil into storage tanks since a pipeline carrying crude away from Pelican Lake has been shut down because of the wild fires.

“We’re thinking we may have to shut in production at Pelican Lake some time later on tomorrow if the pipeline doesn’t reopen,” DelFrari said.

The affected pipeline is Plains Midstream Canada’s Rainbow system. A massive oil leak last month shut down a different portion of that pipeline. Cleanup efforts were suspended on Monday because of the fires.

Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (TSX:CNQ) said it has been working to keep the flames away from a lodge housing staff working on its Horizon oilsands mine.

The fire was about 150 metres from the Chelsea Lodge and so far barriers to keep the fire at bay have worked well.

Meanwhile, the fires have had no impact on any facilities on the Horizon Oil Sands site and “steps have been taken to minimize the potential impact of the forest fires on the Horizon facilities and its operations,” the company said in a release.

Some 1,300 camp residents have been taken out of the area as a precaution. No injuries have been reported.

Another major oilsands producer, Shell Canada Ltd., said its Albian Sands mine has not been affected by the forest fires but that it is keeping an eye on the situation.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer property owners will receive their 2019 property assessment notices in the next few days.  (File photo by Advocate staff)
Red Deer awaiting more details on how federal budget impacts city

The City of Red Deer is awaiting more information on how much… Continue reading

With a ban on sit-in dining once again in place, Las Palmeras owner Andre Lemus is gearing up for more takeout and delivery business. He has also applied to set up and outdoor patio, where dining is allowed under new restrictions. Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
Big interest in outdoor patios in Red Deer as sit-down dining banned again

City of Red Deer has tweaked its patio regulations to make it easier to get a permit

Artist Delree Dumont has painted an Indigenous mural at St. Joseph High School. (Contributed photo)
Indigenous mural painted on Red Deer high school walls

A new Indigenous mural now sits on the walls of St. Joseph… Continue reading

A vial of the Medicago vaccine sits on a surface. CARe Clinic, located in Red Deer, has been selected to participate in the third phase of vaccine study. (Photo courtesy www.medicago.com)
Red Deer clinical research centre participating in plant-based COVID-19 vaccine trial

A Red Deer research centre has been selected to participate in the… Continue reading

Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley announces proposed new legislation to protect Alberta's mountains and watershed from coal mining at a news conference in Calgary on Monday, March 15, 2021. A group of 35 scientists from the University of Alberta are urging the provincial government to rethink its plans for expanding coal-mining in the Rocky Mountains. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Alberta scientists urge adoption of bill that would protect against coal mining

Alberta scientists urge adoption of bill that would protect against coal mining

FILE - In this March 30, 2021 file photo, a banner encouraging workers to vote in labor balloting is shown at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Ala. The retail union that failed to unionize Amazon workers at the Alabama warehouse wants the results to be thrown out, saying that the company illegally interfered with the voting process.The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union said in a filing that Amazon threatened workers with layoffs and even the closing of the warehouse if they unionized. (AP Photo/Jay Reeves, File)
Union accuses Amazon of illegally interfering with vote

Union accuses Amazon of illegally interfering with vote

The Nova Scotia government says nearly $35 million in loans have been guaranteed through a program aimed at helping larger tourism operators struggling to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. Minister of Inclusive Economic Growth Labi Kousoulis, shown in this Thursday, March 25, 2021, file photo, says the program fills a gap in order to help the tourism sector rebound because the larger operators were not eligible for federal programs. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Large tourism operators in Nova Scotia get $35 million in loan support

Large tourism operators in Nova Scotia get $35 million in loan support

A street sign along Bay Street in Toronto's financial district is shown on Tuesday, January 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
North American stock markets slip from record highs as investors await Q1 results

North American stock markets slip from record highs as investors await Q1 results

The Rogers logo is photographed in Toronto on Monday, September 30, 2019.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tijana Martin
Experts warn of economic implications from Rogers wireless outage

A massive wireless outage that has left customers of Rogers Communications Inc.… Continue reading

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland delivers the federal budget in the House of Commons as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on in Ottawa on Monday April 19, 2021. The federal government unveiled spending plans to manage the remainder of the COVID-19 crisis and chart an economic course for a post-pandemic Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Federal Budget 2021: Liberals bank on child care, business aid to prod growth

OTTAWA — The federal Liberals are betting that billions more in debt… Continue reading

University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams is photographed in the stands during the Greater Victoria Invitational at CARSA Performance Gym at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, November 29, 2019. The University of Victoria says Williams has resigned effective immediately. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
University of Victoria women’s rowing coach resigns by mutual agreement

VICTORIA — The University of Victoria says the head coach of its… Continue reading

Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley announces proposed new legislation to protect Alberta’s mountains and watershed from coal mining at a news conference in Calgary on Monday, March 15, 2021. A group of 35 scientists from the University of Alberta are urging the provincial government to rethink its plans for expanding coal-mining in the Rocky Mountains. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Alberta scientists urge adoption of bill that would protect against coal mining

EDMONTON — Some 35 scientists from the University of Alberta are urging… Continue reading

Most Read