Fort McMurray Electricity Providers and Natural Gas Retailers
- ATCO Power
- Direct Energy
- ENMAX Energy
- Hudson Energy
- Just Energy
- Superior Energy
The History of Electricity and Natural Gas in Fort McMurray
Fort McMurray, which existed as an independent city until 1995, is part of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. With a population of just over 60,000, Fort McMurray has served a role in the history of Canadian energy production that far outstrips its small size.
As early as the 1790s, explorers noted the existence of oil sands, which indigenous inhabitants used to waterproof their canoes. The technology needed to take advantage of this resource wouldn’t exist for more than a century. In the meantime, a great deal of oil exploration occurred, and in the 1920s, Alcan Oil Company built Fort McMurray’s first refining plant.
A decade later, another company, Abasands Oil, was the first to extract the precious oil from the difficult-to-process oil sands through the use of hot water extraction. Production was low at the outset, but escalated over the next several years. By World War II, Canadian and American interests used it as a home base during the construction of the Canol Pipeline.
In the 1960s, the Great Canadian Oil Sands plant opened and Fort McMurray’s production of oil truly began to soar. Interest in the region was further piqued by the petroleum shortages of the 1970s, and several more oil sands plants opened in the region over the next two decades.
Fort McMurray’s fortunes dimmed with the fall in world oil prices during the mid-1980s — coinciding with the beginning of Canada’s deregulation of the energy market — and a number of the plants closed due to the inherently high cost of processing oil sands.
However, with the increase in oil prices in the 15 years, interest in the area’s resources has rapidly redeveloped. In the near future, Fort McMurray may again play a sizeable role in the Canadian energy industry.