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Reuters: Suncor, Shell oil sands output unaffected by cold

Wed Jan 30, 2008 10:02am EST

CALGARY, Alberta, Jan 30 (Reuters) – Oil sand projects operated by Suncor Energy Inc (SU.TO: Quote, Profile, Research) and Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L: Quote, Profile, Research) are running normally despite a bitter cold snap in northern Alberta that forced Syncrude Canada Ltd to suspend production at its 350,000 barrel per day project.

Suncor and Shell both said that their oil sands mining projects near Fort McMurray, Alberta, were producing at normal rates. Suncor’s output is about 260,000 bpd, while Shell has a capacity of 155,000 bpd.

“We’re still chugging along,” said Brad Bellows, a spokesman for Suncor.

The oil sands region surrounding Fort McMurray, Alberta, is enduring a bitter cold snap, with temperatures on Wednesday morning of -42 degrees Celsius (-44 Fahrenheit), according to Environment Canada.

Little relief is expected for the next four days, with lows through Sunday ranging from -29C (-20F) to -40C (-36F).

The cold on Tuesday forced the complete suspension of production at Syncrude, Canada’s biggest oil sands producer, after instruments began freezing up. Operations are not expected to restart for several days.

(Reporting by Scott Haggett; Editing by Peter Galloway)

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