Syncrude Canada site output down as fire continues burning

Wed Mar 15, 2017 8:59pm EDT
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By Ethan Lou and Nia Williams

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Several crude bitumen processing upgrader units at Syncrude Canada's oil sands plant in Alberta were shut or running at minimized rates on Wednesday as a fire continued to burn for a second day, the company said.

Mining and extraction of bitumen at Syncrude's Mildred Lake and Aurora sites are also being paced to balance the resulting lower demand, the company said in a statement.

Syncrude spokesman Will Gibson said the fire at the site in northern Alberta had been "isolated and controlled."

Syncrude, Canada's largest single source of synthetic crude, is majority-owned by Suncor Energy Inc (SU.TO: Quote), while Imperial Oil Ltd (IMO.TO: Quote) provides operational, technical and business management support.

Suncor said parts of the 350,000 barrel-per-day Mildred Lake upgrading facility, which makes the tar-like bitumen less viscous, were running at minimum rates, but neither it nor Syncrude specified the capacity.

Synthetic crude prices had jumped on uncertainty over the production impact.

Two trading sources said they had been issued notice by one of Syncrude's owners that there could be volume cuts as a result of the fire but the impact and duration were being determined.

Syncrude said it planned a damage assessment and would begin repairs once it was safe. It has not given any estimate of the expected impact on crude output.   Continued...

FILE PHOTO - Giant earth moving heavy equipment operates in the Syncrude tar sands mining operations near Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada on September 17, 2014.   REUTERS/Todd Korol/File Photo