Canadian Natural restarts Horizon oil sands project after fire

By Phaedra Friend Troy

Canadian Natural Resources (TSX:CNQ) (NYSE:CNQ) has restarted its Horizon Oil Sands Project in Northern Alberta after a fire shut synthetic crude oil production early this year.

Production from the Horizon Oil Sands Project was halted following a fire that occurred in the coker unit on January 6, 2011. An investigation found that a coke drum top unheading valve was opened to the atmosphere on a live drum, and changes have been implemented to ensure it does not happen again.

Following repairs to the primary upgrading facility and operational and safety improvements, the Stop Use Order on the four coke drums was lifted on June 28, 2011.

Canadian Natural successfully resumed production at Horizon on August 16, 2011.

For the past four days, synthetic crude oil production has consistently averaged about 75,000 barrels a day, and Canadian Natural plans to ramp up to full production of 110,000 barrels a day over the next week.

First pipeline deliveries of synthetic crude oil from the Horizon Oil Sands Project commenced on August 18, 2011.

The Horizon Oil Sands Project was sanctioned in February 2005 and produced its first barrel of crude oil in early 2009. The project includes a surface oil sands mining and bitumen extraction plant, as well as an on-site bitumen upgrader to produce synthetic crude oil from the bitumen.

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