(Adds details of Syncrude shutdown)
CALGARY, Alberta, April 5 (Reuters) - The 350,000-barrel-per-day Syncrude oil sands project in northern Alberta, which cut production to zero after a fire, is expected to restart operations in the first week of May, according to three sources familiar with the matter.
The plant is expected to run at partial rates in May, the sources added. Output is expected to be about 5 million barrels, which is nearly 50 percent of capacity, they said.
A company spokesman declined to comment.
Syncrude was forced to halt production and bring forward planned maintenance after the fire in mid-March damaged the facility.
The unexpected outage sent crude prices soaring in Canada, with light synthetic crude from the oil sands for May delivery trading at $5.40 per barrel over the West Texas Intermediate benchmark, according to Shorcan Energy brokers.
Before the fire, synthetic crude was trading around 55 cents per barrel above WTI.
ConocoPhillips has also had to cut production at its 140,000-barrel-per day Surmont facility in the Alberta oil sands because the company cannot get hold of the synthetic crude produced by Syncrude, which it mixes with bitumen to create a heavy blend. (Reporting by Catherine Ngai and Nia Williams; Editing by Chris Reese and Peter Cooney)