Horizon's upgrader expansion going better than planned
Canadian Natural Resources (CNRL) reminded investors this week that its Horizon oil sands mine is on track to "achieve higher than expected performance."
Production out of the Horizon upgrader averaged 178,000 bbl/day in the fourth quarter but a recently completed expansion phase boosted output to 184,000 bbl/day in December and 195,000 bbl/day in January (higher than the facility's advertised nameplate capacity of 170,000 bbl/day).
Operating costs have declined to $22.53/bbl in Q4/2016 and is expected to decline further this year to a range of $24 to $27 per barrel.
The company will take a 24 day shutdown in the fall to tie-in remaining components for its final Phase 3 expansion. Once completed, output from the upgrader will increase by 80,000 bbl/day, bringing total capacity to 250,000 bbl/day.
CNRL is still mulling a debottlenecking of its fractionation tower, which would add another 5,000 to 15,000 bbl/day of capacity. The tie-ins would cost $90 million and require an extra 21 day shutdown. The company is expected to make a final investment decision sometime in the spring.
CNRL stock has been under pressure lately due in part to a non-existent downstream refining business. The company releases fourth quarter and full year 2016 results on March 2, 2017.