March 16, 2011 / 2:49 PM / in 7 years

UPDATE 2-Output falls at Opti Canada's oil sands project

* Feb bitumen output down 14 pct on maintenance shutdown

* Nexen sees lower April, August production

* Shares rise despite lower output from project (Adds details, updates shares)

CALGARY, Alberta, March 16 (Reuters) - Opti Canada Inc OPC.TO said production from its glitch-prone oil sands project in Alberta fell 14 percent in February from the month before, hit by the shutdown of a unit to deal with water treatment problems.

Nexen Inc NXY.TO, Opti Canada’s partner and operator of the Long Lake oil sands project, said April and August production would also be affected by similar shutdowns.

Nexen, Canada’s No. 5 independent oil explorer, said on Tuesday that steam capacity at Long Lake will come down by almost a third for two-week periods in those months, when two units known as hot lime softeners will be shut for maintenance.

In February, bitumen production at the development slid to 23,100 barrels a day from 27,000 in January, the companies said.

Nexen warned last month that output may fall short of forecasts because of operational problems that analysts say may take heavy spending to fix. [ID:nN10264592]

The C$6.1 billion ($6.2 billion) Long Lake project in northeastern Alberta is designed to produce 72,000 barrels a day, but output has not approached that volume in the more than two years it has been operating. Nexen has a 65 percent stake in Long Lake and Opti the remainder.

The production problems have pressured finances at Opti, which has been searching for a buyer and recently hired financial advisers to help restructure its debt.

The company said an under-construction supply line to raise the project’s natural gas inlet capacity is expected to be online by mid-year.

Shares of Opti were up 2 percent at 26.5 Canadian cents on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Wednesday. That is down about 85 percent in the past year.

Nexen rose 13 Canadian cents to C$25.22.

$1=$0.99 Canadian Reporting by Amruta Sabnis and Jeffrey Jones; editing by Rob Wilson

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