CALGARY, Alberta, March 27 Syncrude Canada has
brought forward an eight-week turnaround at its oil sands plant
in northern Alberta after a fire two weeks ago damaged the
facility and forced a cut in crude production, majority-owner
Suncor Energy said on Monday.
Shipments of synthetic crude are expected to restart at up
to 50 percent of the 350,000 barrel-per-day plant's capacity in
mid-April and gradually ramp up to full rates once the
maintenance is finished, the company said in a statement.
Many industry players in Calgary were anticipating the
turnaround would be brought forward as a result of the fire and
there was no immediate impact on prices in the synthetic crude
market, where prices soared earlier in the month when news of
the outage first reached traders.
Light synthetic crude from the oil sands for April delivery
settled at $4.50 per barrel over the West Texas Intermediate
benchmark on Friday, according to Shorcan Energy brokers, and
there were no early morning trades on Monday.
The fire at the Mildred Lake upgrader, which processes mined
bitumen into refinery-ready synthetic crude, broke out on March
14 after a line failure caused a leak near one of the naphtha
One worker was hospitalised and the fire burned under
control for two days before being extinguished.
Imperial Oil, which provides operational support to
Syncrude and is a 25-percent owner in the joint venture, said in
a separate statement there are currently no shipments of
synthetic crude from the plant.
"Efforts remain focused on safely assessing the extent of
the damage and developing a recovery plan for a return to normal
operations," Imperial said.
Suncor said damage was largely isolated to a piperack
adjacent to the hydrotreater, containing piping, cables, and
The company, which runs its own oil sands mining and
upgrading plant around 20 kilometres (12 miles) away, said it
will start handling some volumes of untreated Syncrude
production to help manage inventories.
Suncor also said it does not expect the Syncrude outage will
affect its overall 2017 production guidance.
(Reporting by Nia Williams; Editing by Marguerita Choy)