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Wildfires in Alberta Force City of 80,000 to Evacuate

Wildfires in Alberta Force City of 80,000 to Evacuate

Massive wildfires rapidly moved in on Fort McMurray in Alberta, the jumping off point for much of Canada’s oil sands operations. The fire forced the city to declare a mandatory evacuation for the city’s entire population.

An estimated 80,000 people had to abandon the city at once – the largest evacuation in Alberta’s history – but the highway out of town careened near flames from the forest fire. The skies turned black from smoke and videos of the scenes are stunning. According to some reports, entire neighborhoods were destroyed, but fortunately, no injuries have been reported thus far.

The boreal forests have suffered from unusually dry weather and heat, making them susceptible to fire outbreaks. There were around 35 wildfires in Alberta as of May 3. Related: OPEC’s No. 2 Under Serious Threat From Political Instability

Suncor Energy, a leading Canadian oil sands producer, said that it was “reducing production” at all of its operations in the region to accommodate workers and their families fleeing the region. The company declined to specify how the volume of production that would be affected. Suncor produces 453,000 barrels per day at its oil sands operations in northern Alberta. Shell also shut down its Albian Sands mining operations to focus on employees and families affected. Related: Why The Petrodollar Is Facing Its End

ExxonMobil, Imperial Oil, and Canadian Natural Resources all have operations in Alberta but have no plans yet to cut back on production. Other companies, including Syncrude, Nexen Energy, and Enbridge said their operations have also not been affected. Several workers camps were opened up to evacuees fleeing Fort McMurray.

A year ago in May, another wave of wildfires struck the province, cutting off 9 percent of Alberta’s oil sands production. Cenovus Energy and Canadian Natural Resources closed down some facilities temporarily.

By Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com

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