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Northeast B.C. blaze causing trouble for shale gas producers in area

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CALGARY - A wildfire burning in northeastern British Columbia is causing trouble for some natural gas operations in the region, but it's business as usual for many others.

The blaze southeast of Tumbler Ridge, B.C., is about 12 kilometres from Talisman Energy Inc.'s Ojay gas plant. The company received an evacuation order on Wednesday that affects a "relatively small" number of workers, said company spokesman Brent Anderson.

Production of about 2,000 to 3,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day has been shut in. It's a minuscule amount for a company that produced 360,000 barrels per day during the first quarter.

"Obviously the safety of our people is our top priority, so it was a fairly easy decision to heed the evacuation orders from B.C. Forestry," Anderson said.

Meanwhile, Shell Canada Ltd. spokesman David Williams said the company has shut in a few wells as a precaution, but that the impact was not material.

For ConocoPhillips, there have been no problems so far, spokesman Rob Evans said.

"We're obviously monitoring things really closely and have contingency plans if we need to pull them in, but right now no impacts. We're just kind of watching things unfold."

A number of other oil and gas firms active in northeastern B.C. say their operations have not been affected, including Encana Corp. (TSX:ECA), Husky Energy Inc. (TSX:HSE), Arc Resources Ltd. (TSX:ARX), NuVista Energy Ltd. (TSX:NVA), Apache Corp. and Progress Energy Canada Ltd.

The B.C. Oil and Gas Commission says 200 employees have been ordered out of work camps operated by Horizon North Logistics (TSX:HNL), a company that provides services for remote resource developments.

Officials have pinpointed the size of the fire at about 45 square kilometres and say it remains uncontained.

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