Alberta wildfire shuts in natural gas production

Junior Canadian oil and gas producer Questfire Energy Corp (Qa.V) has shut in 900 barrels of oil equivalent per day of mostly natural gas production because of a wildfire in southern Alberta, its chief executive said on Wednesday.

CEO Richard Dahl said the out-of-control Kenow wildfire is currently about 2 to 3 kilometers (1.2 to 1.9 miles) west of the company’s operations, which were shut in at about 2 a.m. on Tuesday.

The company joins other gas producers that shut operations as the Kenow fire raced through and beyond Waterton National Park in the southwest corner of the province on Monday night.

By Tuesday evening it measured 44,000 hectares (109,000 acres) spanning the mountainous Alberta and British Columbia border, according to the latest update from emergency officials, and around 500 people were under evacuation orders.

Months of soaring temperatures and dry conditions have led to British Columbia battling its worst ever wildfire season, with around 1.2 million hectares burned.

The Kenow blaze is the most serious outbreak so far in Alberta, which last year was hit by a huge wildfire that destroyed much of Fort McMurray in the north of the province.

Dahl said Questfire decided to shut in its gas plant and 16 wells as it started to lose road access to its facilities following a mandatory evacuation order for Cardston County.

Rain and falling temperatures are forecast to move into the region later Wednesday and help firefighters.

“We are just watching the fire right now and monitoring daily,” Dahl said. “Rain should be starting later today. Colder weather has hit, and a change in wind direction will definitely help.”

Shell Canada, a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.N), also shut some natural gas operations in its Waterton complex as a precaution against the wildfire, although its gas processing plant remained open. The Waterton complex has capacity to produce nearly 179 million cubic feet of gas per day.

Shell spokesman Cameron Yost said there was no change on Wednesday morning.

“Our Waterton Gas Plant continues to operate but we are closely monitoring the situation and have clear criteria for a shut in to happen,” Yost said in an email.

Alberta Energy Regulator spokesman Ryan Bartlett said privately owned West Lake Energy Corp also shut in some operations. He did not have details on how much production was affected, and West Lake did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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