Fire halts oil sand production in Alberta

Jan. 7, 2011 at 9:15 AM
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CALGARY, Alberta, Jan. 7 (UPI) -- Production of oil sands from an Alberta refinery was suspended after four workers suffered serious burns during an explosion, a Canadian company said.

Four people, including one worker with Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., suffered burns after an explosion erupted at its Horizon facility north of Fort McMurray, the Calgary Herald reports.

The fire broke out Thursday at a site where crude bitumen is transformed into oil products. Canadian Natural Resources in a statement said oil production at the facility was suspended "and it isn't yet known when production will resume."

Production at the facility dropped from a November average of 107,800 barrels of oil per day to 83,700 bpd in December following a brief shutdown for repairs.

The Canadian company is one of the largest producers of oil and natural gas in the world. It said oil sands production at its Horizon facility was targeted at more than 105,000 bpd.

The Canadian Occupational Health and Safety Agency hit the company with more than 50 violations after a series of accidents in 2007 and 2008.

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