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Suncor Shuts Down Oil Sands Operation Amid Wildfires

Suncor has shut down an oil sands project in Alberta amid wildfires, the province’s Minister of Forestry and Parks said, as quoted by Reuters.

The Firebag project has a capacity of 215,000 barrels of crude daily. Suncor said that it would keep the site ready to return to full operation as soon as possible.

There were 60 ongoing wildfires in Alberta at the moment, with the danger from them rated as very high to extreme, Minister Todd Loewen said.

There are two other oil sands projects in relatively close proximity to Suncor’s Firebag site: the Kearl site, operated by Imperial Oil and the Sunrise site, operated by Cenovus Energy. Neither has been affected by the wildfires to date.

A month ago, the Alberta authorities issued an extreme wildfire danger alert for an area close to most of the province’s oil production. Indeed, the wildfires shut down some production at the time but it was quickly brought back online.

Albertan oil producers booked a record high production for May in the latest sign of growth for an industry that has seen more challenges than others on the way to growth. Oil sands operators produced 3.68 million barrels of oil daily in May, which was 254,000 bpd higher than the output for May 2023.

The Alberta Energy Regulator last month said in a report it expected oil production in the province to grow by over 17% by 2033, reaching a rate of 4 million barrels daily. Most of this would come from in situ bitumen operations rather than oil sands mines, the regulator said.

“In our opinion, the conventional forms of energy — I'm talking about oil, gas, bitumen — should continue and will be part of the energy mix during the energy transition,” the chief economist of the watchdog, Afshin Honarvar said, as quoted by CTV News.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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