CALGARY, Alberta, March 15 The "vast majority"
of workers at Syncrude's oil sands plant in northern Alberta had
returned to work on Wednesday after a fire the previous day,
said a company spokesman who declined to say whether production
at the facility had been affected.
Access to the 350,000-barrel-per-day Mildred Lake upgrading
facility, however, was still restricted, spokesman Will Gibson
said. He added that Syncrude was investigating the cause of
Synthetic crude prices jumped again on Wednesday morning,
hitting a nine-month high of $1.40 per barrel over the West
Texas Intermediate benchmark, according to Shorcan Energy
brokers. On Tuesday light synthetic crude for April delivery
settled at 80 cents per barrel over WTI, having rallied hard in
the last hour of trading.
Syncrude, Canada's largest single source of synthetic crude,
is majority-owned by Suncor Energy and operated by
An explosion rocked the facility on Tuesday at around 2 p.m.
local time, prompting an evacuation, employees on site at the
time said. Syncrude is situated about 40 kilometers (25 miles)
north of the oil sands hub of Fort McMurray.
One worker was injured in the fire and was taken to hospital
in serious but stable condition, according to Alberta Health
Tuesday's fire and the expected disruption to production
echoes problems with Syncrude's operating performance before
Suncor Energy acquired a majority share in the plant
The facility has been plagued in the past by outages and
below-capacity output, but has been running at around 100
percent utilization since the second half of 2016, helped by a
long period of maintenance in May and June when it was shut
during wildfires in Fort McMurray and the surrounding area.
Before the fire on Tuesday Syncrude had a turnaround due to
start in late April and last until June.
(Reporting by Ethan Lou and Nia Williams; Editing by Paul