• Oil Sands Fire Forcing 80,000 Canadians From Homes Set to Expand

    From Where's Justin? Have Him Blow The F@21:1/5 to All on Thu May 5 09:33:24 2016
    XPost: can.politics, sac.politics, ualberta.general
    XPost: misc.survivalism

    A fire fueled by shifting winds that forced more than 80,000
    people to flee their homes and disrupted oil-sands operations in
    Western Canada is poised to expand.

    The fire will probably grow to about 100 square kilometers (40
    square miles), from around 80 now, Chad Morrison, a wildfire
    official, said Wednesday. Suncor Energy Inc., Royal Dutch Shell
    Plc and Husky Energy Inc. are among companies reducing
    production and opening work camps to residents fleeing blazes in
    Alberta’s biggest-ever evacuation caused by a fire. Inter
    Pipeline Ltd. shut part of its system in the province. No deaths
    or injuries have been reported although 1,600 buildings have
    been damaged.

    Many residents of oil-sands hub Fort McMurray fled north to
    nearby sites where companies are flying out workers and making
    room for evacuees. Shell has shut its 255,000 barrel-a-day
    Albian Sands mine and Suncor, Syncrude Canada Ltd. and Connacher
    Oil & Gas Ltd. have also reduced output from the region. More
    than 1 million barrels a day of oil sands production capacity
    may be affected by the blaze, according to company statements
    and data published in Alberta’s Spring Oil Sands Quarterly.

    “My house and everything I own is gone,” Mike Marchand, a crane
    operator for Suncor, said in a phone interview from Edmonton,
    where he evacuated with his family after the trailer park where
    he lives in Fort McMurray went up in flames. “I’ve never had
    anything like this happen.”

    The wildfire is the latest blow to a province already grappling
    with the economic toll of a two-year oil price slump in one of
    the world’s most expensive places to extract crude. More than
    40,000 energy jobs have been lost in Canada since the price
    crash began in 2014. Some 250 firefighters, 10 helicopters and
    17 air tankers have been deployed to fight the blazes around
    Fort McMurray, about 700 kilometers northeast of Calgary.

    While lower temperatures may aid firefighters on Thursday, the
    blaze is expected to last at least until the weekend, Morrison
    said. The area will require years to recover, Scott Long, an
    emergency official, told reporters. In the hardest-hit Fort
    McMurray neighborhoods, between 50 percent and 90 percent of
    homes have been lost, officials said.

    Production Cuts
    Suncor said it brought down its base plant while cutting output
    from its Firebag and MacKay River oil sands operations. Husky
    cut production at its Sunrise facility to 10,000 barrels a day
    from 30,000 after Inter Pipeline shut a diluent line to the
    plant, company Spokesman Mel Duvall said. Connacher cut about
    4,000 barrels a day of output at its Great Divide project. Inter
    Pipeline said it shut part of its Corridor and Polaris systems.

    The annual wildfire season in Western Canada started early this
    year after a dry winter and low spring rainfall. Officials have
    yet to identify a direct cause for the inferno, which quickly
    strengthened Tuesday afternoon and caught emergency responders
    by surprise.

    An out-of-control blaze in 2011 caused an estimated C$700
    million ($544 million) in damage after burning 47 kilometers and
    forcing some oil and gas operations to shut around Slave Lake,
    also in northern Alberta. Oil sands operations belonging to
    Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. and Cenovus Energy Inc. were
    disrupted last year by a blaze near Cold Lake.

    Unpredictable Fire
    The current evacuation has been hindered by the unpredictability
    of the fire, which on Tuesday afternoon breached Highway 63, the
    main road in and out of Fort McMurray, south of the community.

    Videos posted to Twitter as residents were trying to escape
    showed vast tracks of trees being swallowed by fire along
    Highway 63, the forest floor engulfed in flames and the sky
    thick with smoke. Helicopters flew overhead on their way to
    fight the fire.

    Some who headed south to escape the blaze ran out of gasoline as
    refueling stations along the road were emptied. Alberta’s
    Transportation Department escorted a fuel tanker along the
    highway to assist stranded motorists, according to a Wednesday
    morning Twitter post. Imperial Oil Ltd. is also supplying fuel
    to evacuees who fled north at the Wapasu Creek Lodge, which
    normally houses oil-sands workers, the company said on Twitter.

    Too Early
    It’s too early to tally the damage, according to Premier Rachel
    Notley. The evacuation is the largest ever for the province tied
    to a fire, she said. The provincial cabinet has approved C$2
    million in upfront funding for the Red Cross and will continue
    to review further needs, she said.

    “At this point the focus continues to be on the safety of the
    residents,” Notley told reporters at a Wednesday morning
    briefing in Edmonton. “Right now it’s people, then critical
    infrastructure, then stopping the fire.”

    Fort McMurray is at the heart of the Athabasca deposit, one of
    three large bitumen reserves that make up Alberta’s oil sands
    where companies produce about 2.5 million barrels a day. Oil-
    sands crude prices rose after producers cut output.

    The discount for Western Canadian Select, the heavy grade that
    includes oil-sands bitumen, shrank relative to West Texas
    Intermediate futures by 65 cents to $12.95 a barrel on
    Wednesday, according to Calgary brokerage Net Energy. That’s the
    smallest gap since March 1, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
    Light synthetic crude, also produced from the oil sands, flipped
    to a 75-cent premium to WTI from a five-cent discount yesterday,
    according to Net Energy.

    Canada’s Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale pledged federal
    support for Alberta, while the national government dispatches
    military planes to the region. Fort McMurray faces a long road
    ahead to rebuild, Goodale said at a briefing. “The recovery from
    this situation is going to take a considerable amount of time.”

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-05-03/alberta-fires- force-evacuation-at-center-of-oil-sands-region

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