Canadian energy company Nexen says wildfires in Alberta are moving east, away from its oil facilities. Photo by MCpl VanPutten/Canadian Armed Forces/UPI | License Photo
FORT MCMURRAY, Alberta, May 9 (UPI) -- Canadian energy company Suncor, one of the largest in Alberta, said wildfires raging in the province are moving away from their operations near Fort McMurray.
"Although the fire reached the southern end of our mine at our oil sands base operations, fire mitigation efforts were successful," the company said in a statement late Sunday. "We continue to monitor the situation closely and current weather conditions and forecasts indicate the fire is moving east, away from our operations."
Most of Alberta's oil sands operations were shut down or forced to curb productivity in response to fires that forced the evacuation of nearly 90,000 people. Canadian energy company Nexen last week shut down its operations at the Long Lake facility and evacuated its staff.
Suncor moved more than 10,000 people out of Fort McMurray and closed down its operations as well. Its facilities were not damaged and the company said it would restart work once it's safe to do so.
"To facilitate a safe start-up, we will bring employees back in a staged approach and will contact them when it is time to return to work," the company said.
The provincial government said employees also were evacuated from facilities operated by Husky Energy, Royal Dutch Shell and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. Alberta's government said, however, that many of the facilities operated by those companies are still operating.
Hot, dry and gusty conditions contributed to the fire risk in the area. According to the official weather service in Canada, there's a modest chance of rain for Monday, but otherwise warm, windy and dry conditions are expected to last through much of the week. Fires from British Columbia, meanwhile, have moved six miles across the western border into Alberta.
Fires in Fort McMurray are near the center of Alberta oil sands operations, which, outside of Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, represent the third largest deposits of oil in the world.
Crude oil prices moved sharply higher in response to the Alberta wildfires.