Unit fire slashes Syncrude output until end-September

Syncrude Canada Ltd.’s upgrader in the Mildred Lake oil sands production area, about 40 km north of Fort McMurray, Alta., will operate at reduced rates until the end of September following a fire that struck the unit on Aug. 29 (OGJ Online, Aug. 31, 2015).

Results of an initial investigation into the incident show that damage occurred to pipes, power, and communication lines on a pipe rack between a hydrotreating unit and its associated amine unit, according to Canadian Oil Sands Ltd. (COS), which holds 36.74% interest in the Syncrude Canada project.

While mining-extraction operations and other major upgrading units were not damaged by the fire, their operating rates have been reduced as Syncrude continues its work with the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety to investigate the incident and develop a work plan to restore full operations in phases, COS said.

Crude oil shipments and operating rates, consequently, will remain at a minimum for the next 2 weeks. Production rates at the site are expected to return to more normal levels near the end of September, the company said.

As a result of the outage, COS said it now estimates Syncrude production during 2015 to average near the lower end of the 96-107 million-bbl range most recently provided to investors on July 30.

During July, production at Syncrude’s mining and upgrading operations averaged 326,100 b/d, according to the latest production data available from COS.

Additional joint-venture partners in the Syncrude Canada project include Imperial Oil Resources 25%, Suncor Energy Ventures Partnership 12%, Sinopec Oil Sands Partnership 9.03%, Nexen Oil Sands Partnership 7.23%, Mocal Energy Ltd. 5%, and Murphy Oil Co. Ltd. 5%.

Contact Robert Brelsford at rbrelsford@ogjonline.com.

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