Wildfires force evacuations, hit power production in Canada



Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was headed to Alberta to meet with soldiers fighting wildfires that worsened over the weekend, forcing evacuations and hitting energy production in Canada’s main oil-producing province over the week-end.

More than 100 wildfires have raged this month, at one point pushing more than 30,000 people out of their homes while oil and gas producers shut in at least 319,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd), or 3.7 per cent of national production.

Officials in Alberta expect hot and dry weather conditions to continue after they caused an upsurge in wildfires and a rise in home evacuation orders.

“The wildfire situation is extremely volatile”, Alberta Emergency Management chief Colin Blair said.

“For those who are in a community that’s on an evacuation alert, I cannot stress strongly enough the need for resi-dents to be prepared in case there is an urgent need to evacuate.”

“Our peak burning period, which is when the temperatures are at their highest and the fuels are at their driest, is still in front of us,” Alberta Wildfires official Josee St-Onge said at a briefing on Sunday afternoon.

“It’s too soon to say when we’re going to see the peak of this wildfire season. … We are going to continue to be challenged.” By Sunday afternoon, 89 fires were burning across Alberta, with 25 considered out of control and more than 19,000 evacuees. That was up from 74 fires and about 16,500 evacuees on Friday.

Benchmark Canadian heavy crude prices tightened last week to multi-month highs on concerns about the wildfires.

Late on Sunday, Paramount Resources said that due to the fires a third-party gas processing plant and some Para-mount fields were shut, and it had curtailed 45,000 boepd.—AFP