Suncor Energy Inc. (SU:US)’s unexpected shutdown of gasoline production units at the Edmonton, Alberta, refinery is causing a fuel shortage at some gas stations in Western Canada.
The units were idled after pipeline corrosion was found during planned maintenance at the 140,000-barrel-a-day refinery, said Nicole Fisher, a company spokeswoman based in Calgary. Suncor will curtail gasoline supplies to retail stations in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, and some stations will run out of fuel in the next several days, according the company’s website.
“Once we identified the corrosion, we decided to complete the work now, and that resulted in the shut-down units,” Fisher said in a telephone interview. “We are bringing in fuel by rail and truck, sourcing it through a third party in order to replenish the stations.”
Suncor’s Petro-Canada gas-station chain is one of the largest in Canada, with more than 1,500 retail and wholesale outlets, according to the company’s website. Leading competitors in the Canadian retail gasoline business are Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA) and Imperial Oil Ltd. (IMO)
The shutdown of the gasoline units has cut production during maintenance in half to about 30,000 barrels a day, a person familiar with the matter said.
Part of Edmonton refinery had been shut for a five-week maintenance turnaround beginning April 10. The refinery was still operating at reduced rate of about 60,000 barrels a day before the pipeline problem was found, said the person, who declined to be identified because the information isn’t public.
Suncor spokeswoman Fisher said the additional work isn’t expected to extend the length of the maintenance turnaround.
The Edmonton refinery processes a mix of synthetic and heavy crude oils mainly from the Fort McMurray, Alberta area, including from Suncor’s Fort McMurray upgrader, which is currently undergoing a turnaround in a 110,000-barrel-a-day unit.
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