Suncor output to suffer from early start of Syncrude maintenance

Suncor Energy (TSX:SU), Canada's largest oil and gas producer by market capitalization, said Wednesday an eight-week maintenance project at its Syncrude facility will begin Thursday almost three weeks ahead than originally planned.

The Calgary-based company said advancing the turnaround will allow Syncrude to deal with an unrelated issue, which has been limiting capacity on a line that feeds bitumen from the mine to the upgrader.

Suncor noted the change in timing means the Syncrude oil sands project in northern Alberta would run at reduced rates in the first quarter — about 140,000 barrels of oil per day. However, Syncrude's forecasted production for the full year remains within the annual guidance range, said Suncor, which holds the majority stake in the oil sands joint venture project.

The company also said oil sands operations production has benefited from reliable operations at its Firebag and MacKay River plants, but base plant operations dealt with a significant, weather-related outage in January that will cut first quarter output to roughly 400,000 bbls/d.