Image courtesy of DarrenRD/Wikimedia Commons.

Canadian oil sands output has fallen by half as crews struggle to contain a wildfire in Fort McMurray, Alberta that has been burning for over a week.

According to Reuters, the wildfire has taken about 1 million barrels per day of oil sands output offline, or about half of Canada’s total daily oil sands capacity.

Suncor said Sunday that it has safely moved over 10,000 people, including employees, their families and Fort McMurray residents, out of the region.

The company said it has shut down its Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo operations in a controlled manner “to facilitate a quick and reliable start-up.”

Suncor said it is working with the government to enhance fire protection measures in the region, including building firebreaks to protect people and its assets.

Suncor confirmed that the fire reached the southern end of its mine at its oil sands base operations and said that fire mitigation efforts were successful.

There has been no damage to Suncor’s assets.

Suncor anticipates it will commence its restart once it is safe to do so and depending on the availability of critical third-party pipeline infrastructure.

Nexen’s Long Lake facility remains shut down as a result of the fires.

All site personnel have been safety evacuated per mandatory evacuation orders, Nexen said.

“At this time we do not know the status of our facility; however, we continue to closely monitor the situation remotely from Calgary through reports from the provincial emergency response team,” Nexen Energy said.

Shell Canada said Sunday that it continues to evacuate all non-essential staff and other evacuees who are currently at its Albian site on flights to urban centers where resources and support await their arrival.

Shell emergency response teams on the ground in Fort McMurray continue to support local and provincial fire crews and the company is also donating fuel to first responders in the region.

“Production at the Shell Albian Sands mining operation continues to be shut down so we can focus on the evacuation efforts. We do not have timelines for when production will resume,” Shell Canada said.

The Shell Albian operations has a capacity of 255,000 barrels per day.

Statoil Asia told Reuters on Sunday that it expected to close the 20,000 bpd Leismer facility within 24 hours.

Husky Energy told the news wire it has shut production at its 30,000 bpd Sunrise Energy Project.

About 88,000 residents around Fort McMurray have been evacuated since the fire began on May 1 and over 1,500 structures are believed to have been destroyed.

The city’s power grid has been damaged by the blaze and the city’s water supply is currently not safe to drink.

The city’s gas system has also been turned off, Reuters said.

No deaths directly linked to the fire have been reported.


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