A fire in a fluid coker plant last night, and pickets by wives of G.C.O.S workers threw last-minute hitches into the official opening today of the $2.2 billion SYNCRUDE CANADA LIMITED 50,000 barrel per day oil sands plant.
But a festive atmosphere of picnics, sports events and official speeches was expected as the sun shone early this morning on the world's largest oil sand production plant.
The fluid coker fire, which has halted production for several days according to company officials working to repair the damage, apparently started after a bitumen spill. There were no injuries and. damage was confined to the ground level of the coker unit.
The prospect of pickets has been raised by wives of strikers at the GREAT CANADIAN OIL SANDS plant. The wives want to draw attention to the dispute there which resulted in a strike / lock-out September 4.
The plant opening was set for 11:15 a.m. Included in the lengthy list of dignitaries who were to attend are: Syncrude president Brent Scott, the master of ceremonies for the day, Premier Peter Lougheed of Alberta who was to deliver the keynote address, federal energy minister Alastair Gillespie, Alberta energy minister Don Getty, Malcolm Rowan the deputy minister of energy for Ontario, and representatives of SYNCRUDE consortium members, ONTARIO ENERGY LTD., IMPERIAL OIL LIMITED, CANADA CITIES SERVICE LTD., and GULF CANADA LIMITED.
The events of the day are to include the unveiling of a plaque and picnics and sporting events.
The plant which is 40 kilometers north of Fort McMurray started production August 1 and to date 1.5 million barrels of crude has been shipped to Edmonton via the Alberta Oil Sands Pipeline. Production had reached 50,000 barrels per day until Thursday's fire halted production. The 50,000 barrels figure was reached September 1, with one mill on line. When a second train goes into service in October, production will rise to 54,000 barrels per day.
Production will rise to a capacity of 129,500 barrels per day by 1982 and at that time it is predicted that Syncrude will supply 7% of Canadian production and 5% of Canadian demand. In its 25-year life the plant is expected to output more than 1 billion barrels of oil.
The project has been completed and placed on stream at "very close" to the 1974 budget.
The first commercial oil sands project in Canada, the GREAT CANADIAN OIL SANDS LIMITED project nearby processes 50,000 barrels per day. It commenced production in 1967.