Fort McMurray Wildfires

CBJ — The massive wildfires that caused the evacuation of the entire town of Fort McMurray, Alberta has overturned the lives of almost 90,000 people, many of whom are now homeless after more than 1,600 homes and businesses burned to the ground.

The federal government has announced it will match — dollar for dollar — money raised by the Red Cross to help victims of the devastating disaster.

Meanwhile, the price of crude is rising as the wildfires halt oilsands production.

The Wood Buffalo region of Alberta is the economic heart of the province, and key to world oil markets. It produces more than half of Canada’s oil each day and is an important exporter to the United States.

While the oilsands plants themselves are not at risk at this moment, production has not just slowed down, but in most cases has stopped because the plants can’t operate at full capacity without staff. The entire population of Fort McMurray has been evacuated. It’s unknown when the city will be habitable again.

Production has shut down at Shell’s Albian oilsands mines, as well as at Suncor’s base mines north of Fort McMurray. Production has been curtailed at other Suncor operations, as well as at by Syncrude, Husky, and Connacher.

The market is now estimating that between 600,00 and 800,000 barrels are off-line. World oil production is around 96 million barrels a day, and is oversupplied by approximately one million barrels a day, with lots of oil in tanks, so even if oilsands production slows in the short term, it will not have an effect on the world price in the long term.