Syncrude begins coker turnaround

Syncrude Canada has started turnaround of Coker 8-3, which will include comprehensive modifications aimed at improving yield and run length.

Mar 26th, 2009

By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, Mar. 26 -- Syncrude Canada Ltd., Canadian operator of the country's largest oil sands facilities, has started turnaround of Coker 8-3, which will include comprehensive modifications aimed at improving yield and run length.

The turnaround will take 2 months to complete. Syncrude's Mildred Lake upgrading facility 40 km north of Fort McMurray includes three cokers, the primary units for converting bitumen to upgraded crude.

Canadian Oil Sands Trust holds 36.74% interest in the Syncrude project, which has a productive capacity of 350,000 b/d of light, high-quality crude from the Athabasca oil sands formation in Alberta. Other owners include ConocoPhillips Oil Sand Partnership II, Imperial Oil Resources, Mocal Energy Ltd., Murphy Oil Co. Ltd., Nexen Oil Sands Partnership, and Petro-Canada Oil & Gas.

Earlier this month, Canadian Oil Sands Trust reduced its 2009 outlook for Syncrude production to 109 million bbl (40 million bbl net to the trust) from 115 million bbl due to an extension in the schedule for turnaround work on Coker 8-3 and Syncrude's largest sulfur plant.

Turnaround work on the coker began 4 weeks earlier than planned when an ancillary unit experienced operating difficulties as the coker approached the end of its expected run length. The shift in timing for Coker 8-3 has delayed the scheduled sulfur plant turnaround by a month, resulting in an extension for all the planned spring turnaround work.

Canadian Oil Sands expects the modest turnaround activity and more-reliable operations at Syncrude in the second half of 2009 will result in improved production rates. Extension of the turnaround schedule also is expected to increase operating costs by a yet undetermined amount.

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