Recovery efforts continue at Syncrude after power bump takes upgrader offline

Recovery efforts continue at Syncrude after power bump takes upgrader offline

Suncor Energy and Imperial Oil both provided an update on recovery efforts at the Syncrude oil sands facility, located about 40 km north of Fort McMurray.

 

A power outage suddenly stopped production on the evening of June 20, resulting in a complete shutdown of all processing units. According to media reports, some of the vessels were suddenly stopped while full of product, requiring the units to be manually cleaned out and inspected before being returned to service. 

Although the investigation is still ongoing, both companies confirm a high voltage transformer trip resulted in a cascading shutdown of site-wide power and utility systems. Repair of the transformer is currently underway, but power and steam has already been fully restored at the site.

Syncrude's Mildred Lake upgrader has three fluid cokers, which remove carbon from the bitumen, transforming the heavy oil into lighter crude. According to Suncor, one 150,000 bbl/day coker will return to service in the next few weeks, while a second 100,000 bbl/day unit will be operational during the first half of August. 

However, the third 100,000 bbl/day coker will require more time for coke remove and restart the unit. Syncrude is reported to be looking at advancing planned maintenance on the unit in order to mitigate production losses.

Imperial Oil confirmed there are no shipments of synthetic crude out of Syncrude right now, and none is expected until the end of July. Pipeline shipments for August will be roughly 60 to 70% of capacity, with normal output expected to resume sometime in September.

Syncrude accounts for almost 10% of Canada's total oil output, producing 350,000 bbl/day of light sweet crude that sells almost on par with West Texas Intermediate. Its outage is expected to put a dent in July's economic data.

Suncor plans to update its 2018 production guidance on July 25, when it releases second quarter results. Imperial Oil reports Q2 earnings on July 27, 2018.

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