Alberta crude oil production falls to seven-year low amidst oil-sands mines maintenance

Robert Tuttle, Bloomberg August 01, 2023

(Bloomberg) – Crude production in Canada’s energy heartland fell to the lowest in seven years in June amid maintenance at oil-sands mines and as Suncor Energy Inc.’s output was partially excluded, according to Alberta Energy Regulator data.

Alberta’s total oil output dropped 21% to 2.71 MMbpd, the lowest since June 2016, when oil-sands producers were recovering from wildfires that shut about a million barrels a day of capacity. The decline happened as AER data posted on the Petrinex website didn’t include June production from Suncor, which among Canada’s largest producers.

The biggest decline in June was from oil-sands mines, which saw production plummet 48% to 712,000 bpd. Total oil-sands output fell 25% to 2.15 MMbpd. Oil output was even lower than during the heart of the 2020 pandemic, when production was curtailed due to low prices.

Suncor’s June production from wells, including from its Firebag and McKay River oil-sands sites, wasn’t included in regulatory data that was released late last month and is used to create the month’s final tallies.

The company’s June output from wells was 254,000 bpd in May, the third-largest of Alberta oil producers. The Alberta Energy Regulator directed questions about the matter to Suncor. An email to Suncor for an explanation wasn’t immediately returned.

The company was grappling with a cyber incident that began in late June and affected some of the company’s businesses, including the processing of debit and credit transactions at PetroCanada filling

Oil-sands mines. including Imperial Oil Ltd.’s Kearl and Suncor’s majority-owned Syncrude Canada Ltd. mines, were undergoing maintenance last quarter. Kearl’s production was down 42,000 bpd versus the first quarter, Imperial said in its second-quarter earnings call. Imperial, a 25% owner of Syncrude, saw its share of output from the site drop 10,000 bpd to 66,000 bpd in the quarter. Canadian Natural Resources Ltd.’s Horizon upgrader, used to process mined oil-sands crude, was scheduled to go into a full shutdown in mid-May extending into June. AER data broken down by company on oil sands mines is released several months late. 

Alberta Energy Regulator data released late last month showed some companies’ production recovering from wildfires, but the data only included production from wells, excluding oil-sands mines. Alberta’s oil production data has been converted from cubic meters a month to approximate barrels a day.

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