Cenovus shuts down oil site due to risks posed by Canada’s wildfire

An out-of-control wildfire in the Canadian province of Alberta, which forced several oil sands producers to evacuate and shut down plants last month, has now pushed Cenovus Energy (TSE, NYSE:CVE) to halt operations at its Pelican Lake heavy oil facility.

While evacuees from the ongoing fires in Fort McMurray have begun returning to the city, a state of emergency remains in place throughout Alberta.

The company said the flames were barely one kilometre away from its complex on Tuesday night, adding that the shut-down of Pelican Lake — located 300 km north of Edmonton —was precautionary, and no infrastructure had been damaged by the blaze, currently estimated to cover about 90 hectares.

Cenovus said that about 118 staff members were moved to nearby Wabasca by bus and helicopter as a precaution.

While evacuees from the ongoing fires in Fort McMurray have begun to return to the city, a state of emergency remains in place throughout Alberta, and the temporary shutdown of the area's oil sands production sites continues.

Cenovus shuts down oil site due to risks posed by Canada’s wildfireThe US Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that disruptions to oil production averaged about 0.8 million barrels per day (b/d) in May, with a daily peak of more than 1.1 million b/d.

While projects are slowly resuming as fires subside, it may take weeks for production to return to previous levels.

EIA expects disruptions to average 400,000 barrels per day in June.

Pelican Lake produced 23,000 barrels per day of heavy oil in the first quarter of 2016.