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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - February 9, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta Inflation, shortages bedevil Syncrude's billion project EDMONTON (CP) The Syncrude project that politicians call Canada's energy hope for the future has added purchasing problems to its manpower troubles. Ttie company formed to de- velop the Athabasca oil sands must purchase millions of dol- lars worth of construction material and equipment between now and its planned completion date of 1977. But officials of Syncrude Canada Ltd say the suppliers no longer can quote future prices because costs in almost every industry have become unpredictable. They say delivery schedules, a vital factor in the semi-isolated area of the oil sands, never have been certain but now they are even more unpredictable because of wide-ranging shortages. "We're fighting like hell to stay on said a Syn- crude official. The company has not changed'its 1977 target date when barrels of oil a day are due to move through the pipeline to southern Alberta and the rest of Canada. There has also been no offi- cial change, the spokesman said, in Syncrude's projected price of million for the oil extraction plant and another million for subsidiary facilities. But he recalled that the price tag for the plant several years ago was million, and prices of supplies are rising even faster now. Syncrude's work officially started Dec. 16 last year when it signed a profit-sharing agreement with the Alberta government, each party getting 90 per cent. At the site near Fort McMurray, 220 miles northeast of Edmonton, crews are working on ground clearing and other preliminary work. Officials say that, so far, they haven't been able to find many of the engineers and skilled workers they need. Syncrude has 207 people working at the site to prepare the main construction camp, but this group is due to expand to by the peak construc- tion period in 1976. In addition, officials report no progress in negotiations be- tween union representatives, the provincial labor relations board and Syncrude over the company's move to gain assurance that there will be no strikes during the construction. Syncrude has said it needs a guarantee of continuity because of the vast problems and expenses that a strike could cause. Two other companies, Shell and Petrofina, are con- templating similar projects at the vast oil-saturated sands said to contain reserves equal to half the world's known supplies of conventional oil. Production from the area is called unconventional or syn- thetic crude oil because it must be extracted, using heat, from the sand itself. Costs are significantly higher than production from conventional oil wells. Syncrude is a combined ven- ture of Imperial Oil, Gulf, At- lantic Richfield and Canada Cities Service Strike may hurt Wilson's electioneering The LetHbridge Herald VOL. LXVII 50 LETH8RIDGE, ALBERTA, SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 1974 80 Pages 15 Cents Special to The Herald LONDON Labor Party Leader Harold Wilson last night attacked Prime Minister Edward Heath for using the miners as a "whipping boy" in the general election to cover his own failures But as he spoke there were deep misgivings within the Labor party about the outcome of the February 28 vote as the miners decision to go on strike added an ominous new dimension to the next three weeks of electioneering The miners' executive over- rode the objections of its mod- erate president, Alf Gprmley to declare that they will shut down the coal industry at midnight tonight. This raised the spectre of power cuts, mass unemployment, violence on the picket lines, slashed exports, a plunge in the value of the pound sterling and murderous inflation One Labor party front-ben- cher said privately last night: "This adversely affects La- bor's chances of winning and is absolutely disastrous for the country's economic future At Conservative headquar- ters, a senior member of the national campaign staff said. "Bad for the country, good for us. It helps to make up lor Enoch PoweU's defection." He was referring to the mysterious decision of maverick Tory MP Enoch Powell not to stand for re- election. Powell, a bitter foe of Heath, the election "immoral, fraudu- lent and' gross irresponsibility.'-' Political speculation here is that Powell has decided to wait in the wings for a summons from the Conservative party to become its new leader should the Tories lose the electioHT Wilson told a national tele- vision audience that Heath "in the most remarkable election platform of all time, is asking for a mandate to pay the min- ers after the election what he refuses to pay them before the election, to settle the claim which he has made the excuse for the election. "For the first time in history we have a general leading his troops into battle with the deliberate aim of giving in if he wins He said he believes the great mass of the British people is reasonable, moderate and fair minded and "will refuse to be stampeded into a bash-the- unions election A glum Gormley said that when the miners' executive yesterday discussed whether to postpone the strike, most felt that the members would feel that having given an 81 per cent vote in favor of a strike "at this late we can't back down." Some executive members had said "their own members might walk over them" if the> pulled back now 'No plan to relax standards' alDMONTON