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Suncor Evacuates Thousands of Oil Workers As Alberta Wildfires Shift

Alberta Wildfire

The Alberta wildfire shifted back toward oil sands facilities north of Fort McMurray on Monday, forcing a new round of evacuations for thousands of workers who have been trying to get production restarted.

Suncor has ordered the evacuation of thousands of oil workers in Alberta, and Enbridge’s oil sands transportation terminal is under threat as wildfires continue to push through the province.

On Monday, Suncor said it had ordered the evacuation of 8,000 workers from its oil sands camps in the Wood Buffalo municipality and shut down operations as authorities expanded the evacuation zone north of Fort McMurray, where the wildfires started over two weeks ago.

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Syncrude Canada has also shut down its oil sands mine and processing plant due to smoke on the site, located north of Fort McMurray. The company said that it evacuated all personnel, some 4,800 of them.

Enbridge’s Cheecham oil sands terminal is battling the spread of the fire less than one kilometer from the facility. The terminal is approximately 47 miles southeast of Fort McMurray, also in the Wood Buffalo region. About 4,000 workers were removed from camps north of the city run by Noralta Lodge and South Pacific Resources.

As of the time of writing, the wildfires had expanded to almost 1,100 square miles. The wildfire still covers about 930 square miles and is expected to spread.

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As a precaution, some million barrels per day of oil sands crude production was lost because of disruptions to regional pipelines over a two-week period, and much of that production remains offline.

However, some facilities are starting to produce oil again. Shell Canada's Albian site is restarted after the fire changed direction and the plant was considered secure.

Crude oil prices reached a six-month high of $48.17 on Tuesday, with Canadian outages lending more than its fair share of support.

By James Burgess of Oilprice.com

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