Fort McMurray wildfire cost to oilsands could top $1.4B, say analysts

Burned trees are shown in Saprae Creek near Fort McMurray Alta, on Friday June 3, 2016.
Burned trees are shown in Saprae Creek near Fort McMurray Alta, on Friday June 3, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Analysts say lost oilsands production from the Fort McMurray wildfires could top 30 million barrels and cost the industry upwards of $1.4 billion.

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Some of the largest oilsands producers in the province were forced to shut down or curtail operations last month as 80,000 residents of Fort McMurray evacuated the city to escape the fierce blaze, which has yet to be extinguished. Damage to oilsands projects was minimal but analysts say restarting operations is taking longer than expected.

Analyst Martin King of FirstEnergy Capital estimates the industry’s production loss at $1.4 billion or more and adds that pipeline blockages are preventing some oilsands projects from restarting as quickly as expected.

Watch below: Global’s ongoing coverage of the fires in Fort McMurray

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Nick Lupick, an analyst for AltaCorp Capital, puts the value of the industry’s production losses at about $1.6 billion and expects it to grow.

Lupick figures Suncor Energy (TSX:SU) alone has lost about 21 million barrels of output from its own oilsands operations as well as from Syncrude Canada, in which it has a majority stake. Those barrels would have been worth about $700 million.

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He said an outage at Suncor’s Edmonton refinery that caused gasoline shortages in Western Canada would take the loss to about $800 million, while other costs of restarting production could easily inflate Suncor’s total losses to nearly $1 billion.