Canada's Suncor pushing for full operations by end-June: sources

Wed May 25, 2016 8:34pm EDT
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By Eric M. Johnson

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Suncor Energy Inc (SU.TO: Quote) is pushing to reach full operations at its oil sands projects in the fire-stricken Canadian province of Alberta before July 1, according to several company employees.

A massive wildfire that erupted earlier this month in the nation's energy heartland forced Suncor and a number of other major crude producers around the Fort McMurray oil city to halt operations, cutting Canada's crude output by about a million barrels a day.

Suncor, Canada's largest crude producer, has several oil sands facilities, including the main mining site which has the capacity to produce up to 350,000 barrels per day.

With the fire held at bay near prized oil sands mines, Suncor and other producers have started bringing staff back to facilities after evacuation orders were lifted at all worker camps in the province on Monday.

Employees had different accounts for when operations would be fully restored, with several pointing to July 1.

"We're in the process of restarting, don't have more specific details than that," said Suncor spokeswoman Sneh Seetal. "I can't speak to someone's speculation on timing."

No oil facilities or communities have been in the fire's immediate path over the past several days as firefighters seized upon cooler, wet weather to hold firebreaks around key oil sands assets.

Even so, temperatures were climbing on Wednesday and the fire grew by about 43,000 hectares from the previous day to 566,000 hectares (2,185 square miles), said wildfire official Travis Fairweather.   Continued...

A wildfire burns as evacuees who were stranded north of Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada head south of Fort McMurray on Highway 63, May 6, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Wattie/File Photo