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An abatement in the spread of the wildfires ravaging through Canada’s Alberta region see oil production back on line soon after production was cut by almost 1 million barrels per day amid plant shut downs and safety evacuations.
On a visit to Fort McMurray, ground zero for the wildfire, Alberta’s provincial premier Rachel Notley said she expected oil companies to resume production “in the coming days or weeks”.
On Tuesday, she met with energy executives, discussing the steps that need to be taken for production to be resumed, including ensuring that infrastructure—including pipelines and electricity--is operational and that there is adequate housing and medical care for workers.
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Top producers such as Suncor Energy, Syncrude Canada, Royal Dutch Shell, Imperial Oil and ConocoPhillips took about a million barrels a day offline over the past week, with more shut in on Monday, as they focused on keeping their workers safe and sheltering evacuated locals.
More than 80,000 people were evacuated from the oil sands city last week. Officials said they hoped to provide a schedule within two weeks for the return of residents.
On Tuesday, Royal Dutch Shell’s Canadian unit said that it was able to restart production at its Albian mine, which it suspended on May 3, marking the first major producer to resume operations since the fire. The company said it would rely on fly-in, fly-out staff to operate the mine. Shell’s oil sands production capacity is 255,000 barrels a day.
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In its turn, Suncor Energy Inc. said its “primary focus is to work with our pipeline companies and our power companies” to make sure the infrastructure is intact.
The statements on Tuesday from Notley and energy companies were the first effort to table a timeline for resuming operations of affected companies.
By Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com