Oilsands companies prepare to restart production as fire moves East

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Oilsands operators took more than 1 million barrels a day of output offline this month as a wildfire forced the evacuation of workers and the shutdown of pipelines and power supplies.

CALGARY – The threat posed by the wildfire that shut down 1.2 million barrels of daily oilsands production has not completely passed, but oilsands companies have begun sending crews back up to northern Alberta to prepare to restart their facilities.

Teams from Suncor Energy Inc., Syncrude Canada Ltd., Athabasca Oil Corp. and ConocoPhillips Canada are either en route to, or on the ground at, oilsands projects around Fort McMurray preparing to start pumping oil once again.

“This is the first time that we’ve completely shut down our operations since we started production in 1978, so it is something without precedent and this is why we’re assessing it very carefully because we want to do it safely and we want to do it right,” Syncrude spokesman Will Gibson said Tuesday.

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