Saturday, January 10, 2009

A big pile of dirt

I think Fort McMurray will be hardest hit in 2009. Prices were high even considering the strength of the economy. Optimistic case even if a slowdown brings a "mild normalization" to their economy house prices should take a substantial hit.

Consider oil prices compared to house prices in Fort McMurray. Currently light sweet crude costs $40.83 US/bbl and the Canadian dollar is at 0.8419. In Canadian dollars oil prices are at $48.50.

That means the average Fort McMurray home at $656,051 is the equivalent of 13,527 barrels of light sweet crude.

Its even more extreme when considering how much actual sand that represents. From Wikipedia each barrell of oil requires two tons of tar sands:
The bitumen is then transported and eventually upgraded into synthetic crude oil. About two tons of oil sands are required to produce one barrel (roughly 1/8 of a ton) of oil. Roughly 75% of the bitumen can be recovered from sand. After oil extraction, the spent sand and other materials are then returned to the mine, which is eventually reclaimed.
So each house is the equivalent of 27,054 tons of tar sands.

I am not taking into account that bitumen is priced lower than light sweet crude. According to this chart for oil prices bitumen @ Hardisty was 56% the price of Light Sweet @ Edmonton in December. Another point is that the energy inputs to produce one barrel of oil.

So maybe 50,000-75,000 tons of tar sands is equal to one Fort McMurray house at current prices.

From memory one of the trucks above holds about 150-200 tons. That means 250-500 super-trucks of tar sands.

Something to think about anyway. I'm gonna be busy for the next while so I will be taking a blogging break for 3 weeks or so.

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