Statistics canada: fort mcmurray wildfire hurt crude oil production, manufacturing

Statistics canada: fort mcmurray wildfire hurt crude oil production, manufacturing

17 March 2017

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Canada — Fort McMurray — The wildfire last May hurt crude oil production, manufacturing and led to more than seven million lost work hours in Wood Buffalo, according to Statistics Canada data presented Thursday to the Fort McMurray Chamber of Commerce.

However, some of Fort McMurray’s political leadership are confident the economic damage will be repaired through the rebuilding phase and an uptick in global oil prices.

A presentation from Connie Graziadei, assistant chief statistician with StatsCan, showed the wildfire’s economic damage had serious consequences for the local and national economy.

In Wood Buffalo, 7.6 million work hours were lost, with the natural resources and construction industries suffering the most damage locally.

A total of 1,935 residential buildings were destroyed, which included 2,574 living spaces such as apartments. The fire claimed 23 commercial and industrial buildings. A total of 571 rebuild permits were issued between July and October, with Mayor Melissa Blake saying 30 rebuilt homes are inhabited right now.

There have been 32,000 personal and commercial property claims, and 12,000 automotive claims, with a combined value of $3.7 billion.

Retail services across Alberta were not seriously harmed, and there were no unusual movements in the price of consumer products. Graziadei said this was likely because Fort McMurray accounts for less than three per cent of total provincial retail sales.

However, prairie provinces saw gas prices in May jump an average of 9.6 per cent.

The real GDP dropped by 0.4 per cent during the second quarter of 2016. Manufacturing related to machinery, fabricated metal and petroleum and coal equipment reported the largest economic declines during the wildfire.

“We’ve always known we’re a fairly significant contributor to the economy, but sometimes we forget to see how significant,” said Blake. “Our impact on the country is really reflected in these charts and graphs.”

Non-conventional oil extraction dropped by 20 per cent last May after an eight per cent decline in April. There were significant decreases in delivery of crude oil to major refineries because of the wildfire. Refineries used their inventories to partially support sales, but output was still affected.

Alberta refineries recorded a 40.7 per cent drop in receipts of domestic crude, while Ontario followed with a 36.9 per cent drop.

At the same time, monthly crude oil exports dropped by 1.2 per cent, while imports rose by 13 per cent to 3.4 million cubic metres, the highest level since August 2013. Roughly half of oil imported into Canada comes from the United States.

Lower production from the oilsands and Canadian refineries also meant a decrease in pipeline traffic of oil. Oil pipelines received 15.1 million cubic metres of crude oil and equivalent products from Canada, and 4.9 million cubic metres were sent to Canadian refineries.

Fort McMurray-Cold Lake MP David Yurdiga called the presentation “a harsh snapshot showing the challenges ahead,” but was confident the extra work for the construction industry and rising oil prices will be a major economic boost during the recovery phase.

“After we saw billions of dollars escape our economy locally and nationally, the spring rebuild is going to be hugely important,” he said. “I’m quite happy 2016 is gone, 2017 is looking brighter and hope 2018 will be even better.”

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