Syncrude still down but Suncor targets intact

CALGARY — Oil production remains offline two weeks after a fire halted operations at the Syncrude oilsands mining complex in northern Alberta but its largest owner says it still expects to meet 2017 targets.

Suncor Energy Inc. (TSX:SU) said Monday it was still on track to meet its guidance issued in November of between 680,000 and 720,000 barrels of crude per day, in part because of strong results from its other oilsands and offshore assets. The company’s forecast called for between 150,000 and 165,000 bpd this year from its 54 per cent stake in Syncrude.

Analyst Arthur Grayfer of CIBC Capital Markets said in a note Monday that Syncrude had built up a “cushion” of production by averaging more than 95 per cent of capacity in January and February, above its 2017 average forecast of 84 per cent.

Suncor said some of the impact of the unplanned outage will be offset by advancing an eight-week maintenance turnaround that was originally scheduled to begin next month.

The fire erupted on March 14 at the Mildred Lake oilsands upgrader after a pipeline began leaking near one of its two hydrotreating units. It burned for two days.

Syncrude said Monday a male employee remains in hospital.

While much of Syncrude’s workforce returned a day after the fire, Imperial Oil (TSX:IMO) said in a separate statement Monday that there are no shipments of synthetic crude from the operation at this time.

Imperial owns 25 per cent of Syncrude and provides management services under contract. Suncor said it will handle some of Syncrude’s untreated production, starting this week.

Suncor said it expects pipeline shipments of treated oil to resume at up to 50 per cent capacity in April.

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