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Canada Wildfires Prompt First Evacuation Order in Oil Country

Alberta authorities have issued the first evacuation order for this year as wildfires spread across Canada’s biggest oil producer.

Per a Bloomberg report, the residents of a First Nation community in the Cold Lake region were ordered to evacuate because of the blaze. Several other communities in the vicinity were put on standby, the report added. The Cold Lake indigenous area is to the north of Edmonton, close to the border with Saskatchewan.

The news comes a day after reports about a wildfire in the vicinity of Fort McMurry that had local authorities issue an evacuation warning in case the blaze spread. Later on Monday, the warning was canceled. A Bloomberg report recalled that eight years ago another wildfire forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of locals and the suspension of some 1 million barrels of oil in daily production.

There were production shut-ins in Canada last year as well, because of wildfires. In March of that year, over 300,000 bpd of daily production were shut in because of the fires, representing 3.7% of total output. At the time, there were 110 active wildfires across Alberta, of which 36 were out of control.

Over 65% of the territory of Canada was unusually dry at the end of March, Bloomberg noted in its most recent report. These were similar conditions to last year’s when the country suffered its worst wildfire season, according to reports. If the situation repeats, there will be oil production outages again.

Alberta produced crude oil at a record rate and there are plans for further growth as the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project nears completion. In November 2023, the province produced an all-time high of 4.16 million bpd. Planned output expansions in the oil sands could drive an 8% increase in Canada’s total oil production by next year, according to analysts.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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