Wildfire forces Shell to shut down Fort McKay oil sands project

It’s freeing up space at its work camp for some of the people evacuated from Fort McMurray.

FORT MCKAY, Alta. — Shell Canada has closed its oil sands mining operations 70 kilometres north of Fort McMurray because of the wildfire raging through the northern Alberta city.

The company says it shut down production at its Albian Sands project in Fort McKay to get employees and their families out of the region.

Spokesman Cameron Yost says it also wants to free up space at its 2,000-person work camp for some of the 80,000 people ordered evacuated from the city.

Shell is using its landing strip to fly employees and their families to Calgary or Edmonton and has provided two teams of firefighters to combat the blaze.
Shell’s two mines at the Albian Sands site have capacity to produce 255,000 barrels of oil per day.

Suncor Energy says it has reduced production and staffing levels at its main oil sands mine just north of Fort McMurray, but the facility is not in immediate danger from the fire.

“Our facilities are currently well removed from the fires and are not physically threatened, however, we are operating at reduced rates,” spokesman Paul Newmarch said in an e-mail.

“We have evacuated all non-essential employees and continue to provide employee updates through our Facebook page.”

Most but not all incoming flights to the Fort McMurray International Airport, located southeast of the city centre, were shown as cancelled on its website on May 4 in the morning.

Canada’s oil sands are considered the third-largest reserves of crude oil in the world, with 166 billion barrels of recoverable oil covering 142,000 square kilometres.

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc. 2016

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