Syncrude advances coker turnaround

A fluid coker at Syncrude Canada Ltd.’s Mildred Lake oil sands upgrading complex 40 km north of Fort McMurray, Alta., has entered maintenance ahead of the unit’s originally planned turnaround in mid-2016.

Syncrude brought forward turnaround activities at Coker 8-2 after discovering a buildup of coke deposit inside the unit, which was causing reduced circulation and hampering performance, according to Canadian Oil Sands Ltd. (COS), which holds 36.74% interest in the Syncrude Canada project.

With maintenance to improve operations at the unit now under way, COS has revised its Syncrude production estimate for 2015 to about 90 million bbl (33 million bbl net to COS) and said it expects 2016 production to improve correspondingly as a result of the advanced turnaround.

Revised guidance for 2016 production, however, will not be released until the company issues its fourth-quarter 2015 results.

As of Dec. 1, COS initially projected Syncrude production for 2016 to average 95-110 million bbl (35-40 million bbl net to COS), according to the company’s original 2016 guidance to investors.

Syncrude’s Mildred Lake upgrading operations host three cokers, the primary units for converting bitumen to upgraded crude.

In November, Syncrude production averaged 322,600 b/d, or 9.7 million bbl total, with year-to-date output averaging 249,200 b/d, or 83.2 million bbl, according to the latest production data available from COS.

Alongside 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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