Canadian Natural: Unable to fully assess damage following fire at Horizon Oil Sands

By Phaedra Friend Troy

According to a report from Reuters, independent oil firm Canadian Natural Resources has been unable to fully assess the damage caused by the fire earlier this month at its Horizon Oil Sands project in Alberta, pushing restart of the project back.

On January 6, a fire ignited at the Horizon Oil Sands facility in northern Alberta. Occurring at the top of the coke drum’s cutting deck, the fire was contained to the Horizon Primary Upgrader, which refines the heavy bitumen into synthetic crude oil.

The company quickly shut down operations and allowed the fire to safely burn itself out, which happened in a few hours.

Canadian Natural, as well as regulatory agencies OH&S and Alberta Environment, immediately started investigations into the cause of the accident.

While staff has been given authorization to certain key areas to winterize the facility, additional access has not yet been granted.

“We haven’t been allowed complete access yet; we’re still working with the occupational health safety people,” Langille told Reuters Monday.

This means that Canadian Natural has been unable to fully assess the damage that took place.

Additionally, repair work has not yet started, although the company has been proactive about ordering equipment needed to get the oil sands facility back up and running.

Furthermore, Canadian Natural hopes to restart production from two of the unharmed coke drums, bringing production from the facility to 50 percent – while crews continue to work to repair and restart the fire-damaged portion of the Horizon plant.

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