Canadian oil workers prepare for air commutes after wildfire

Thu May 12, 2016 11:32am EDT
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By Liz Hampton and Devika Krishna Kumar

EDMONTON, Alberta/NEW YORK May 12 (Reuters) - Fort McMurray residents Tony Bussey and Barritt Wilson are among the fortunate of those who live in the Alberta town ravaged by wildfire - both of their homes are fine.

However, they and a number of others are going to see their commutes change, joining an already large group of people who are flown in and out of the region to work on oil installations.

Last week, fire raged unchecked through the Canadian city of Fort McMurray, leading to a full evacuation, with many losing their homes and having to rebuild from scratch.

But Fort McMurray has long been an area that saw oil companies using fly-in-fly-out (FIFO), which lets companies get employees to remote work sites, where they stay in camps, usually for a couple of weeks.

That will help some companies restart operations relatively quickly after the devastating fire that has scorched roughly 229,000 hectares (566,000 acres).

Others, like Suncor Energy, will be moving workers in and out of the region through temporary workforce arrangements from Calgary and Edmonton to help restart operations.

The wildfire knocked out nearly half, or 1.07 million barrels per day (bpd) of Alberta's oil sands capacity and led to the evacuation of about 88,000 residents, many employed by the energy sector. Production is slowly trickling back in.

Bussey and Wilson, both full-time employees of Suncor, were taking things in stride.   Continued...