Syn­crude lat­est oil­sands player to forgo build­ing pricey up­grader

Cape Breton Post - - COMMENT - BY LAUREN KRUGEL

plans to build its Voyageur up­grader, which was shelved in late 2008 when the eco­nomic down­turn hit.

Im­pe­rial and Sun­cor are also both part­ners in Syn­crude, with 25 per cent and 12 per cent stakes re­spec­tively.

Syn­crude, north of Fort McMur­ray, Alta., is the largest oil­sands op­er­a­tion in the world, with the abil­ity to pro­duce roughly 350,000 bar­rels of syn­thetic crude oil per day.

Cana­dian Oil Sands Trust has the big­gest stake in Syn­crude with 37 per cent. Other part­ners in­clude Cono­coPhillips (NYSE:COP) with nine per cent, Nexen Inc. (TSX:NXY) with seven per cent, and Mo­cal En­ergy Ltd. and Mur­phy Oil Co. each hold­ing five per cent.

Sun­cor and Syn­crude, the two old­est oil­sands op­er­a­tors, have a decades-long his­tory of up­grad­ing their bi­tu­men within Al­berta, so the fact that both have been re­think­ing their strate­gies is es­pe­cially trou­bling, said Gil McGowan, pres­i­dent of the Al­berta Fed­er­a­tion of Labour.

“Alarm bells should be go­ing off at the leg­is­la­ture when ... even stal­wart com­pa­nies like th­ese start mak­ing plans to ex­port sig­nif­i­cant quan­ti­ties of bi­tu­men in its rawest form,” he said.

McGowan said his group would like to see the gov­ern­ment place re­stric­tions on the ex­port of raw bi­tu­men in or­der to en­sure jobs and in­vest­ment stay in the prov­ince.

“ The im­pli­ca­tions could be se­ri­ous for Al­ber­tans. We’ll es­sen­tially be ship­ping thou­sands of high-pay­ing jobs down the pipe­line,” he said.

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