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Fort McMurray wildfire: oil firms not expected to make insurance claims

Aerial view of the Suncor oil sands extraction facility on the banks of the Athabasca River and near the town of Fort McMurray, Alberta.
Aerial view of the Suncor oil sands extraction facility on the banks of the Athabasca River and near the town of Fort McMurray, Alberta. MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images

Oilsands producers are not expected to be among the recipients of a record insurance payout arising from the wildfires in Fort McMurray, Alta., even though some of them had to halt production, which bit into their bottom line.

Suncor Energy said it won’t file a claim despite losing more than three-quarters of its total oil production for about a month.

Spokeswoman Sheh Seetal said none of the company’s producing facilities were damaged by the fire — they were shut down due to employee evacuations or precautionary closings of pipelines — and therefore can’t collect on business interruption insurance.

READ MORE: Fort McMurray wildfire: Suncor to ramp up production

Calgary financial analysts say none of the oilsands companies they report on are expected to file insurance claims for the same reasons.

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Experts have estimated that 30 million barrels of oilsands production worth up to $1.6 billion was lost due to the fires that erupted in May.

READ MORE: Nearly $1B of oilsands production lost due to Fort McMurray, Alta., fire: report

The Insurance Bureau of Canada has estimated the fires caused about $3.58 billion in insurable damage, making it the costliest disaster in the country.

Watch below: Fort McMurray wildfire: $3.6B in damage, says Insurance Bureau of Canada

Click to play video 'Fort McMurray wildfire: $3.6B in damage, says Insurance Bureau of Canada' Fort McMurray wildfire: $3.6B in damage, says Insurance Bureau of Canada
Fort McMurray wildfire: $3.6B in damage, says Insurance Bureau of Canada – Jul 7, 2016

About $1.25 billion of that is expected in commercial claims, which would also cover business interruptions.

READ MORE: Top 10 most costly disasters in Canadian history for insurers

The fires forced almost 90,000 residents from their homes. It also destroyed about 1,800 houses as well as buildings containing 600 apartments or condo units.

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People have since been allowed back into the community, but it took nearly two months before a state of emergency could be lifted.