To become an energy giant, Canada needs capital, people and pipes
Nov 17th 2012 | FORT MCMURRAY | from the print edition
THE oil town of Fort McMurray gets a bad press. GQ magazine portrayed it as a hellhole of testosterone and tattoos, where drunken oilworkers shower strippers with cash and get into fights because there’s nothing else to do. Esquire called it “the little Canadian town that might just destroy the world”.
There is a grimy grain of truth in such stories. Extracting oil from Alberta’s oil sands does indeed cause environmental problems. And Fort McMurray is a bit macho. It is a frontier town of ultra-low temperatures (-20°C is about average in winter; -51°C has been recorded) and ultra-high wages (average household income is C$178,000, which is also $178,000). The population is mostly young and male. Some do indeed prefer more raucous entertainment than say, joining a book group to discuss “Eat, Pray, Love”. “I wish they’d ban truck nuts,” sighs a female resident, referring to the toy testicles with which some young men decorate their trucks.