January 7, 2011 / 5:21 PM / 9 years ago

FACTBOX-Recent Canadian oil sands upgrader mishaps

Jan 7 (Reuters) - The upgrading plant at Canadian Natural Resources Ltd’s (CNQ.TO) Horizon oil sands operation in northern Alberta caught fire on Thursday, halting output at the 110,000 barrel a day facility for an indefinite period. [ID:nN07198897]

The blaze is the latest in a series of mishaps at such units, which are complex and expensive tangles of pipes and vessels that transform raw bitumen from the oil sands into light synthetic crude that can be used as feedstock for refineries around the continent.

Here is a list of some recent Canadian oil sands upgrader incidents.

Sept. 2010 - Syncrude Canada Ltd is forced to run about 19 percent under its 350,000 bpd capacity for the rest of the year due to a longer-than-expected outage of a coker unit at its upgrader and necessary repairs to associated equipment.

Feb. 2010 - Fire at Suncor Energy Inc’s (SU.TO) 125,000 bpd Upgrader 1 shuts the operation for about two months, forcing the company to cut production targets for the year and prompting executives to search for outside help on long-term technical fixes. The fire starts days after repairs to Suncor’s Upgrader 2 are completed.

Dec. 2009 - Blaze shuts Suncor’s 175,000 bpd Upgrader 2 for more than a month, halving overall output from the 350,000 barrel a day plant.

Oct. 2009 - Suncor’s Upgrader 2 off line for about three weeks due to a fire the company characterizes as minor.

Nov. 2008 - Fire ignites at one of two Suncor upgraders following the start-up of a vacuum unit that was down for planned maintenance. Repairs take about a month.

Nov. 2007 - Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSa.L) forced to halt mining at its Athabasca oil sands project after a fire at its 155,000 bpd Scotford upgrading plant near Edmonton, Alberta. Repairs take about two months. (Reporting by Jeffrey Jones; editing by Peter Galloway)

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