Canada wildfire shutters oil sands plants, pipelines

Wildfire is worsening along highway 63 Fort McMurray, Alberta

The wildfire that raged unchecked on Thursday in the city of Fort McMurray in the heart of the Canadian oil sands region knocked out as much as a third of the nation’s daily crude capacity and closed some major pipelines.

While oil sands facilities are not in the fire’s path, seven production companies and two pipeline operators have curbed activities to allow workers and others to get to safety.

At least 640,000 barrels per day of capacity was offline on Thursday, according to Reuters’ calculations.

Following is a list of what oil producers and pipeline companies have said about nearby operations:

– ConocoPhillips said on Thursday it had shut its Surmount operations and evacuated people and workers from site.

– Nexen Energy, a wholly owned subsidiary of China’s CNOOC, said late on Wednesday that it was shutting its Long Lake oil sands facility.

Long Lake can produce around 50,000 bpd of synthetic crude but has been operating at reduced rates since late January, when an explosion at the plant left two employees dead.

– Suncor Energy Inc, whose oil sands operations are closest to the city, has closed its main mining site, which can produce up to 350,000 bpd.

Before the shutdown, the site was operating at reduced levels due to a turnaround there.

Due to the reduced availability of diluent in the region, the company said its thermal oil sands operations, including the Syncrude facilities, are all working at reduced rates.

It said its main plant 25 km (16 miles) to the north was safe.

– Royal Dutch Shell Plc said it had closed its Muskeg River and Jackpine oil sands mines, whose combined capacity is 255,000 bpd.

– Husky Energy said it had cut production at its Sunrise oil sands project to 10,000 bpd from 30,000 bpd after a pipeline that supplies the project with diluent was shut down.

– Connacher Oil and Gas Ltd said it had cut production at its Great Divide operation, which is 80 km south of the city, to about 4,000 bpd of bitumen.

The operation produced 14,000 bpd in the fourth quarter.

– The Syncrude oil sands project, owned by a consortium of companies including Suncor, said it was reducing operations to help support employees affected by the fire. Syncrude has 2,000 evacuees staying at its camp.

– The following companies with operations near the city said they were not affected: Canadian Natural Resources Ltd, Cenovus; Imperial, a subsidiary of Exxon Mobil; Statoil ASA; MEG Energy; and Athabasca Oil Corp.


– Enbridge Inc was starting shutdown procedures, an Alberta government official said, without elaborating further.

An Enbridge spokesman would not confirm, but said mainlines were not affected. They are 10 or more kilometers away from the fire and below ground, he said.

– Inter Pipeline Ltd has shut down its Corridor pipeline system that serves Shell’s oil sands facilities and partially shut down its Polaris diluent pipeline.

– TransCanada Corp said it does not expect the wildfire to affect deliveries of natural gas. The nearest pipeline is about 20 km west of the current wildfire. Source.

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