Restarting refinery takes days: Suncor

It could take some time for production units at a refinery owned by Suncor Energy Inc. (TSX:SU) to get back up to speed after a disruption of hydrogen sent thick black smoke and tall flames shooting from two flare stacks.

CALGARY — It could take some time for production units at a refinery owned by Suncor Energy Inc. (TSX:SU) to get back up to speed after a disruption of hydrogen sent thick black smoke and tall flames shooting from two flare stacks.

Restarting a large facility, such as a refinery or power plant, can take days, said Suncor spokeswoman Sneh Seetal.

“To start up a facility of that size is not as easy as flipping a switch. It takes some time,” Seetal said .

“You need to heat up equipment, circulate product and then start to develop and produce the product and test it . . . so there’s quite a detailed, systematic process and it’s important that we follow it and that we continue to operate safely.”

The flow of hydrogen — which is used to make products such as gasoline and diesel fuel at the plant — was disrupted Wednesday, but was restored by Thursday morning.

Some of the materials that go into making various types of fuel were kept flowing to make it easier to restart the units.

The plant owned by Suncor, which recently merged with Petro-Canada, has a production capacity of about 135,000 barrels a day.

It’s too early to say whether the disruption could again affect gasoline shipments to fuel retailers, Seetal said.

A storm that ripped through the Edmonton area July 18 knocked out power to a number of refineries. While some units came back on line quickly, it took almost 10 days to make all the necessary repairs and resume production at the Suncor plant, Seetal said.

The disruption caused some gas retailers in Alberta to run dry at the pumps — a situation that Suncor spent weeks working to rectify.

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