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Alberta wildfires disrupt energy production

Wild fires in Northern Alberta are causing disruptions to energy and forest product operations in the region.


May 17, 2011
by CANADIAN PRESS/PLANT STAFF

CALGARY: Wind-fuelled wild fires in Northern Alberta are causing disruptions to energy and forest product operations in the region.

Cenovus Energy Inc. may have to halt oil production at its Pelican Lake pool, although the company said fire that partially destroyed the town of Slave Lake does not pose a threat to its facilities at the moment.

The site is currently producing at its full 22,000-barrel-per-day capacity.

However, Plains Midstream’s Rainbow pipeline has been shut down because of the fire, which means Cenovus has been putting its oil into storage tanks for now.

“We’re thinking we may have to shut in production at Pelican Lake sometime later (today) or tomorrow if the pipeline doesn’t re-open,” said company spokeswoman Rhona DelFrari.

Another portion of the pipeline suffered a major oil spill last month near Peace River. Cleanup efforts have been suspended because of the fires.

The fires have not affected Cenovus operations elsewhere in the province, like the Christina Lake and Foster Creek oil sands projects.

A third phase of Cenovus’ Christina Lake oil sands project is nearing completion, with the company preparing to start pumping steam underground in the next day or so.

BlackPearl Resources Inc. temporarily shut in its oil production at Mooney field in the Slave Lake area, which was producing approximately 700 barrels of oil per day. Construction and commissioning of the polymer facilities have been halted, and all personnel were evacuated from the area.

So far, none of the company’s facilities have been damaged.

Celtic Exploration Ltd.’s gas production from the Kaybob processed at the KA gas plant area has been halted since May 14 after SemCAMS ULC, the operator of KA, cut power to the gas plant because of high winds and fire in the area but will restart when electricity is expected to be restored today.

West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. said its two operations in the area – Slave Lake Pulp and Slave Lake Veneer –have so far escaped damage. Both facilities have suspended operations and are being manned by emergency crews only.

Exall Energy Corp. has shut in its 921 boe/d of Marten Mountain production. The company said as of May 16, it received Force Majeure notification from Enerchem International Inc., a producer and distributor of hydrocarbon drilling and fracturing fluids and the purchaser of Exall’s production from Marten Mountain.

The notice said Enerchem has been required to suspend all turnaround activities and shut down and secure its Slave Lake plant site until further notice.

The devastating fires in and around Slave Lake destroyed hundreds of homes, churches, businesses and municipal buildings in the town of 7,000.