| 5 December 2023, Tuesday |

Canada PM Trudeau heads for Alberta as wildfires rage

In order to meet with soldiers battling wildfires that intensified over the weekend, causing evacuations and affecting energy output in Canada’s largest oil-producing province, Justin Trudeau, the country’s prime minister, travelled for Alberta on Monday.

This month, more than 100 wildfires have burned, forcing more than 30,000 people from their homes at one time, while oil and gas producers have stopped producing at least 319,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd), or 3.7% of the country’s output.

Officials in Alberta expect hot and dry weather conditions to continue after they caused an upsurge in wildfires and a rise in home evacuation orders.

“Our peak burning period, which is when the temperatures are at their highest and the fuels are at their driest, is still in front of us,” Alberta Wildfires official Josee St-Onge said at a briefing Sunday afternoon.

“It’s too soon to say when we’re going to see the peak of this wildfire season. … We are going to continue to be challenged.”

By Sunday afternoon, 89 fires were burning across Alberta, with 25 considered out of control and more than 19,000 evacuees. That was up from 74 fires and about 16,500 evacuees on Friday.

Benchmark Canadian heavy crude prices tightened last week to multi-month highs on concerns about the wildfires.

Late on Sunday, Paramount Resources  said that due to the fires a third-party gas processing plant and some Paramount fields were shut, and it had curtailed 45,000 boepd.

Vermilion Energy said on Monday it had restored 60% of the 30,000 boepd that it previously shut in.

The Canadian army has been helping with firefighting and recovery efforts in the province since Thursday, and more troops are expected to join in the coming days, according to the Alberta government.

St-Onge said officials expect more challenging wildfire weather. “Conditions will remain hot and dry and windy in the coming days.”

Trudeau was scheduled to be in Alberta’s capital Edmonton, where he will meet with Canadian Armed Forces personnel, before leaving for Seoul to meet South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, according to the prime minister’s itinerary.

  • Reuters