Fire damages Canadian Syncrude equipment, forces firm to halt production

Fire damages Canadian Syncrude equipment, forces firm to halt production

Mildred Lake oil sands surface mine. (Image courtesy of Canadian Oil Sands )

Canadian Oil Sands (TSX:COS), the main owner of the giant Syncrude oil sands project, has halted production after the fire that damaged equipment at its synthetic crude oil processing facility in northern Alberta.

The company said the fire, which happened early Saturday and was extinguished without any injuries, affected pipes connected to a water treatment unit at Syncrude’s heavy oil upgrader on the site of its Mildred Lake oil sands surface mine. The cause of the blaze remains under investigation.

The operation is a 326,000 barrel-per-day mining and upgrading project, where oil sands bitumen is upgraded into refinery-ready synthetic crude.

Canadian Oil Sands holds a 37% stake in Syncrude Canada and six other companies own the rest, including Suncor Energy Inc, Imperial Oil Ltd, Nippon Oil subsidiary Mocal Energy Ltd, Murphy Oil Corp, China’s Sinopec, and CNOOC subsidiary Nexen.

Aside from plunging crude-oil prices, Canadian Oil Sands is facing a number of other challenges. It recently swung to a loss and was affected by unplanned equipment outages and Moody’s Investors Service’s decision to cut its credit rating last week.

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