After wildfire scare, essential employees return to Cenovus
After 118 staff evacuated from Cenovus site Tuesday essential workers begin to return
Essential workers are returning to Cenovus Energy's Pelican Lake heavy-oil facility, after an out-of-control wildfire in northern Alberta forced the company to shutter its doors for a day.
"Because the fire is not considered an imminent threat to our facilities or staff, we have determined it is currently safe for essential personnel to return to Pelican Lake," the company said in a statement on Wednesday.
"We expect to have 44 essential staff back at site by this evening."
On Tuesday afternoon, the fire came within one kilometre of project's main complex, triggering an operational shutdown and a complete staff evacuation.
Cenovus said air quality at the site is currently acceptable and continues to be monitored.
The 118 staff members working on site when the evacuation began were transported to a temporary evacuation centre in Wabasca, Alta. Some were able to evacuate by emergency vehicle, others in the northern reaches of the project site had to be evacuated by helicopter.
On Tuesday, Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. said the fire is a safe distance from its major facilities at Pelican Lake, but as a precaution it has temporarily stopped producing 800 barrels a day and moved non-essential personnel from the project's northern camp.
The fire is estimated to be about 75 hectares, and fire breaks are being created.
Cenovus's facility produced 23,000 barrels per day of heavy oil in the first quarter of 2016.