Oil companies aim for quick restart after Fort McMurray fire – by Jeff Lewis (Globe and Mail – May 11, 2016)


CALGARY — Alberta’s oil-sands producers are aiming for a speedy ramp-up of lost production north of fire-ravaged Fort McMurray, easing market fears that emergency shutdowns of more than one million barrels a day could extend indefinitely.

Some facilities have already begun pumping crude at reduced rates, and others could start production within 24 to 48 hours of a decision to resume operations, Suncor Energy Inc. chief executive officer Steve Williams said after meeting with Alberta Premier Rachel Notley on Tuesday.

“Some will be more difficult and could be a week or two,” Mr. Williams told reporters in Edmonton, speaking on behalf of the industry. “The most difficult will be the ones we haven’t been able to get into to see yet, which are down south of Fort McMurray, where the fire actually went across the plant.” Those include Nexen Energy ULC’s Long Lake operation and Athabasca Oil Corp.’s Hangingstone plant, officials said.

To the north, Royal Dutch Shell PLC has partially restarted production at its Muskeg River and Jackpine mines, which the company shut down as wildfires intensified last week. They have capacity of 255,000 barrels a day.

Syncrude Canada Ltd. said on Tuesday it restarted an 80-megawatt power-generation unit at its Aurora mine, an initial step toward boosting production that also provides stability to the local grid, a spokeswoman said. The facilities were shut down over the weekend because of smoke.

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