Canada column for Sunday, June 26/16
THE CANADIAN REPORT
By Jim Fox
The economic toll from the massive wildfire that devastated Fort McMurray, Alberta could cost the oil sands industry more than $1.4 billion.
While the losses continue to add up, local councilors have unpopularly voted themselves big pay increases to cover their increased workload due to last month’s fire.
The Athabasca oil sands’ community’s 80,000 residents were forced to leave and 2,400 houses and businesses were destroyed.
The oil industry estimated a loss of 30 million barrels and it is taking longer than expected to restart operations because of damage and clogged pipelines.
Suncor Energy could end up losing $1 billion over lost production, an Edmonton refinery outage that led to gasoline shortages in Western Canada and restarting costs, analysts said.
Paul Cheng of Barclays said about half of the 1 million barrels a day of interrupted production has been restored.
Councilors from the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, which includes Fort McMurray, voted 7-4 to pay Mayor Melissa Blake and three of its members $150,000 a year to work full time on a recovery committee.
The seven other part-time councilors’ pay will increase to $75,000 a year from $36,000.