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Alberta forest fire forces evacuation of oilsands facilities

Alberta forest fire forces evacuation of oilsands facilities

Cenovus and CNRL shut down operations as precautionary move

Cenovus Energy and Canadian Natural Resources Limited have evacuated their facilities within the Cold Lake Air Weapons range, close to Alberta’s eastern border, due to an out-of-control forest fire in the area.

“Yesterday, CNRL evacuated their plant facilities in the Primrose area and then, last night at 11 o’clock, we advised Cenovus in Foster Creek that it would be a good precautionary move to evacuate their personnel as well,” said  Leslie Lozinski, spokeswoman for the province’s environmental and resource ministry.

Cenovus evacuated their facilities at Foster Creek because the fire threatened the only road out, which would have made any evacuation of the facility difficult.

Rhona Delfrari, spokeswoman for the company, said there were approximately 1,800 staff on site last night before the evacuation started early Saturday morning. By the afternoon, only a handful of staff were left over to shut down the plant before escaping by helicopter.

“As far as we know right now, there is no threat from the fire to our facilities, it was more about the road being blocked off from the fire,” said Delfrari.

Monitoring the situation

CNRL’s operations in the area are closer to the fire.

Scott Stauth, the company’s vice-president for North American operations said they have shut down “almost all of our operations, but we still have our main facility, which is not in the weapons range, we still have it manned and operating.”


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Oil industry pushing for carbon tax in Alberta

Oil industry pushing for carbon tax in Alberta

But if heavy emitters are going to pay, they want consumers to share the burden

The biggest players in Canada’s oil and gas industry are urging Alberta’s government to step up its environmental policies and introduce a carbon tax.

Alberta already has carbon pricing, but the program is limited and it will expire in the next few months.

Suncor CEO Steve Williams told a crowd in downtown Calgary on Friday that change is needed in Alberta to improve Canada’s global reputation.

“We’re trying to move Canada to a position of leadership, that’s not how we are viewed around the world at the moment. We are viewed to be quite the opposite,” said Williams.

Suncor, along with fellow Canadian energy company Cenovus, says the time is right for Alberta to address its environmental policies. But they also say if the province adopts a carbon tax, it should be broad based and apply to everyone.

That includes consumers. The idea is that industry will pay a carbon tax, but so too will the average person. That would include having to pay extra at the pumps and on their natural gas and electricity utility bills.

“Absolutely,” said Williams. “A realization by the consumer is really important because if you want energy efficiency, if you want people to change their behaviours and affect the demand side, you have to get to those users.”

Alberta’s next premier, Rachel Notley, will be sworn in this weekend. She’s already facing pressure to address the province’s carbon emissions. Alberta produces 36 per cent of Canada’s total emissions.

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Layoffs, Spending Cuts Permeate Alberta’s Oilpatch On Quarterly Results

Layoffs, Spending Cuts Permeate Alberta’s Oilpatch On Quarterly Results

CALGARY – There was a splattering of red ink in the oilpatch Thursday, as the steep drop in oil prices weighed on the bottom lines of some of the energy sector’s biggest names in the last three months of 2014.

Oilsands producer Cenovus Energy Inc. (TSX:CVE) said it’s cutting its headcount by 15 per cent, mostly contractors, amounting to 800 positions. Husky Energy Inc. (TSX:HSE) also said there’s been a “small” reduction in its workforce, but declined to get more specific. And Precision Drilling Corp. (TSX:PD) said there’s not enough work these days to keep its crews busy.

“I believe we are in for much greater volatility in oil prices for the foreseeable future and that’s why you’ve seen Cenovus preserve cash by moderating our growth and reducing our workforce,” Cenovus CEO Brian Ferguson said.


Crude prices have been at around the US$50 a barrel mark for much of this year so far, after having hit US$107 a barrel last summer. The drop intensified toward the end of 2014.

Cenovus posted a net loss of $472 million, widening from the previous year’s loss of $58 million.

The results for the quarter included a $497-million charge related to its Pelican Lake oil project in Alberta due to the drop in oil prices and a slowing of the development plan for the project.

Some expansion work at Cenovus’ flagship Foster Creek and Christina Lake oilsands projects is winding down, though phases that are further along in development are continuing as planned.


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