Image courtesy of DarrenRD/Wikimedia Commons.

A wildfire that has been raging in Fort McMurray, Alberta for over two weeks has prompted another wave of oil sands camp evacuations.

Suncor confirmed Monday that it has started a staged and orderly shutdown of its base plant operations as a precautionary measure.

Alberta officials ordered mandatory evacuations for MacKay River, lodges along Aostra Road and the Borealis, Millennium and Hudson lodges on Monday.

Suncor said it will move workers from those areas to camps north of the region.

The company added that, to ensure that lodging remains available, it would not be flying personnel inbound or outbound for either Fort Hills or East Tank Farm construction on Tuesday.

Inbound flights scheduled for Tuesday for MacKay River and Base Plant were postponed by a day.

Outbound flights will depart as scheduled, Suncor said.

Syncrude told Reuters that it has also moved employees from the affected area.

According to the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, the evacuations will impact about 8,000 people.

Syncrude said Monday that it continues to deploy employees on the ground at its Mildred Lake and Aurora oil sands sites to advance the safe return of operations.

As of Sunday, Syncrude said that several hundred employees were working north of Fort McMurray with a focus on assessing and ensuring the safety of the sites, preparing for start-up by inspecting units and equipment and commissioning and re-starting operations in a staged manner.

Alberta officials told Reuters on Monday that the fire had moved within a mile of an Enbridge terminal south of Fort McMurray.

Enbridge said on Monday that it’s working with provincial firefighting crews to contain a fire near the Cheecham Terminal.

“Additional industrial firefighting resources are also on scene to help protect the facility, 70 km southeast of Fort McMurray,” the company said.

Enbridge is widening an existing firebreak around the terminal and its crews are assessing next steps in fire suppression tactics such as spraying down facilities.

The company said the distance between its terminal and pump station facilities and the tree line was established to minimize the potential of impact from a forest fire.

Some pipelines into and out of the terminal are operating and the company is continuing to monitor the situation closely.

The fire began on May 1 and has forced over 88,000 Fort McMurray residents from their homes.

At the height of the blaze, nearly one million barrels per day of oil sands production was shut-in.


Leave a Reply