Wildfire prompts Cenovus, Canadian Natural to shut Pelican Lake production

WABASCA, Alta. – An out-of-control wildfire in northern Alberta has prompted two companies to curtail heavy oil production in the Pelican Lake area.

Cenovus Energy Inc. (TSX:CVE) said it safely shut down about 23,000 barrels a day of production and ordered the evacuation of 118 staff from its Pelican Lake facility Tuesday after a fire was discovered about one kilometre away from its complex.

As of Wednesday morning, the company said the operation remains shut down with no damage to the facilities or infrastructure.

Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (TSX:CNQ) said the fire is a safe distance from its major facilities at Pelican Lake, but as a precaution it has temporarily stopped producing 800 barrels a day and moved non-essential personnel from the project’s northern camp.

Alberta wildfire officials said Wednesday the blaze almost doubled in size overnight to 91 hectares but that it is moving away from those oil facilities.

Three fire crews supported by helicopters and air tankers are fighting the fire, which is burning about 300 kilometres north of Edmonton and 30 kilometres northeast of the community of Wabasca, Alta.