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Syncrude Upgrader production disrupted by Fluid Coker Instrument Failure

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    The Canadian Press – ONLINE EDITION

    Syncrude oilsands production disrupted, companies working to restart plant

    By: Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press
    22/11/2011 6:22 PM

    A tailings pond reflects the Syncrude oilsands mine facility near Fort McMurray, Alta., on July 9, 2008. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh


    CALGARY – Production from an upgrader at the Syncrude oilsands mine was disrupted Tuesday, and the biggest partner in the sprawling project said work is underway to get the processing plant running again.

    The shutdown was the result of an “instrumentation failure” at a coking unit, said Siren Fisekci, a spokeswoman for Canadian Oil Sands Ltd. (TSX:COS).
    “They brought the unit down to repair that, and they are in the process of restarting the unit,” she said in an interview.

    A coker breaks down heavier crude into lighter oils, gases, and petroleum coke and is an important step in the upgrading process. The synthetic crude oil that comes out of the upgrader can then be refined into products like gasoline and diesel.

    The coker that was down has a capacity of about 100,000 barrels per day, said Fisekci. The Syncrude mine’s total capacity is about 350,000 barrels per day.

    Fisekci said Syncrude is maintaining its production target range for between 105 million to 107 million barrels this year. The outage is not expected to affect operating costs or capital expenditures.

    “They are working on the restart right now. And if that’s successful, then this should be relatively no impact,” said Fisekci. “Then if not, then we can see an impact on that production range for the year.”
    Syncrude, north of Fort McMurray, Alta., is the world’s biggest oilsands project and a major source of oil for Canadian and U.S. markets.
    Canadian Oil Sands holds a 36.74 per cent stake in the Syncrude project, which has operated for more than three decades.

    Syncrude’s other owners include Imperial Oil Ltd. (TSX:IMO), Nexen Inc. (TSX:NXY), Suncor Energy Inc. (TSX:SU), China’s Sinopec, Mocal Energy Ltd. and Murphy Oil Co. Ltd.

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