| CALGARY, Alberta, June 23
CALGARY, Alberta, June 23 Power outages in the
Canadian oil capital of Calgary could last for weeks or even
months, city authorities said on Sunday, after record-breaking
floods that killed three people and forced more than 100,000 to
flee their homes swept across southern Alberta.
Some Calgary residents were able to return to sodden homes
as river levels slowly dropped and some mandatory evacuations
orders were lifted.
But Bruce Burrell, director of the Calgary Emergency
Management Agency, said power restoration in the downtown core,
where many of Canada's oil companies have their headquarters,
could take days, weeks or even months.
Many of oil companies were making plans for employees to
work from home.
"This is an evolving situation and because of the volatility
of electricity and water and the infrastructure that was damaged
we have got a lot of issues with restoring power to different
parts of the city of Calgary," Alderman John Mar told CBC radio.
"We are facing an absolutely gargantuan task."
Heavy rains were blamed for 750 barrels of synthetic oil
spilling from a pipeline approximately 70 kilometers (43 miles)
south of Fort McMurray in northern Alberta early on Saturday.
"We are still investigating the cause, however, we believe
that unusually heavy rains in the area may have resulted in
ground movement on the right-of way that may have impacted the
pipeline," Enbridge, Canada's largest pipeline company, said in
an emailed statement.
The company also has shut down two major oil pipelines
serving Canada's oil sands region as a precaution.
Provincial authorities said it was too early to count the
cost of the flood damage because rivers have not peaked in some
The South Saskatchewan River is expected to burst its banks
in the city of Medicine Hat in southeastern Alberta on Monday.
About 10,000 people have been evacuated.
The floods already look significantly worse than those of
2005, which caused C$400 million ($383 million) in damage in the
western Canadian province.
The floods followed 36 hours of unusually heavy rainfall
that pushed the volume of water in rivers to record levels. Some
communities received six months of their normal rainfall in
fewer than two days.
Evacuations started on Thursday and utility Enmax switched
off power to central Calgary on Friday afternoon to avoid water
damage to its downtown facilities. Troops were used on Sunday
morning to shore up the east bank of the Bow River in Calgary
and ensure the stability of an Enmax substation.
It was unclear how much crude trading would take place on
Monday after little if any trade on Friday.
Shorcan Energy Brokers, which provides live prices for many
Canadian crude grades, operated out of Toronto on Friday rather
than from Calgary, although there were no trades in Western
Canada Select heavy blend or light synthetic crude.
Net Energy Inc, the other main Calgary crude broker, was
closed on Friday and no trading took place.
As the Bow and Elbow rivers in Calgary, which during the
weekend hit five times their normal flow rate, slowly receded,
the scale of the damage became apparent. Roads and pavements
were left covered with a layer of thick silt, fallen trees lined
the riverbanks and residents pumped dirty brown water out of
Police said three bodies had been found near High River,
about 60 km (40 miles) south of Calgary.
Flood water covered the grounds of the Calgary Stampede, an
annual extravaganza of cows, cowboys and horses scheduled to
start on July 5. City authorities insisted the show would go
ahead despite the disruption.
(Reporting by Nia Williams)