Massive wildfires have raged through western Canada for over a week, consuming over 3,900 square kilometers of land, twice the size of Jeju Island, according to the New York Times. As of May 8, the blazes were ongoing at 98 different locations, with around 30 of them considered out of control. The Alberta government has issued evacuation orders for 30,000 residents so far.
The fires have also threatened oil production in the region, causing disruptions and halts to some operations. As a result, oil production has dropped by over 3% of Canada’s daily output, totaling a reduction of over 280,000 barrels. The Canadian government is concerned that the fires may take several months to completely extinguish.
Speaking at a press conference on May 8, Alberta’s Premier Jason Kenney said, “We have asked the federal government, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, for support, including military aid.” Kenney added that Trudeau had agreed to send military aid if necessary. Kenney described the situation as a “challenging time” for Alberta, where “many people are leaving their homes with everything they have.”
Over 700 firefighters are battling to extinguish the blazes. Alberta has requested assistance from other provinces, including Quebec and Ontario, and over 1,000 firefighters from these regions are expected to arrive this week, according to Alberta officials.
Canada is the world’s fourth-largest oil-producing country, with 80% of its oil production taking place in Alberta. As the wildfires threaten oil production facilities, oil companies have taken precautionary measures and halted some operations. Crescent Point Energy has announced a production cut of over 45,000 barrels per day in the Duvernay area, while Vermilion Energy has temporarily stopped production of 30,000 barrels per day.
Other companies have also cut back production, with Pipestone Energy reducing its daily production by 20,000 barrels, Baytex Energy cutting 10,000 barrels per day, and both Tourmaline Energy and TC Energy suspending operations at their facilities. Paramount Resources, which produces both oil and gas, has halted its production of 50,000 barrels of oil per day since May 5th.