CALGARY — Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. says it won’t be able to resume any production at its badly damaged Horizon oilsands upgrader until the second quarter of this year.
An explosion and fire ripped through the facility north of Fort McMurray, Alta., on Jan. 6, injuring five workers.
Canadian Natural (TSX:CNQ) says a preliminary examination of the damage indicates that two of the four coker drums could resume production sometime between April and June.
“Preliminary target time lines at this early stage indicate that the first set of coke drums are targeted to resume production in Q2/11, enabling onstream production of about half plant capacity or 55,000 barrels per day of synthetic crude oil,” Real Doucet, a CNRL vice-president, said Monday.
The second set of coke drums are targeted to resume production in the third quarter. Total repair costs are not expected to exceed $250 million, the company said.
Doucet said any production restarts are subject to the approval of the Alberta government, which is still investigating the cause of the fire. The province has not ruled out laying charges.
CNRL said the five injured workers are recovering and three of the men have returned to work.
The corporation said it believes the explosion and fire happened when a valve on one of the cokers opened, allowing the release of hot hydrocarbons.
CNRL says it is trying to determine the “how and why” of the fire, and is reviewing the design, installation, and operating procedures of the valves on all four of the coker drums.
The investigation team hopes to complete its findings in March, and to provide recommendations that would prevent another fire.
“The investigation will determine if equipment malfunction or a break down in operating or maintenance practices occurred causing this fire and if any changes need to be made,” CNRL President Steve Laut said in a release.
“We will immediately implement all changes or enhancements necessary to maintain the high levels of safety and environmental excellence expected at all of our operations.”