FORT MCMURRAY (660 NEWS) – Suncor is reporting it will delay a planned maintenance shutdown at its oilsands mine upgrader because of a surge in COVID-19 cases.
A state of local emergency remains in place for the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo region and according to Alberta Health Services (AHS), areas surrounding the oilsands have the highest per capita infection rate in Alberta.
In a tweet, CEO Mark Little said, “Given this situation and with Syncrude in the middle of a turnaround schedule we’ve delayed the start of our U2 turnaround at Base Plant until at least June.”
The plant, 25 kilometres north of the city, is contending with one of the largest COVID-19 outbreaks in the country.
Suncor reduced its employees by 600 in 2020 and announced in October it would reduce total staff by 10 to 15 per cent over the next 18 months.
The regional municipality declared a state of local emergency on May 3, because of surging COVID-19 infections.
Premier Jason Kenney has also introduced several new public health measures and increased fines for those who violate the rules in an effort to get the COVID-19 situation in Alberta under control.
Some of the new restrictions introduced include sending students back to online learning, shutting down patios and reducing outdoor social gatherings.
As well, starting immediately and for the next three weeks, retailers will need to reduce capacity to 10 per cent, outdoor gatherings are reduced to five people, places of worship will be limited to 15 and attendance at funerals is cut in half to 10.
Restaurant patios, as well as personal wellness services, will need to close at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, May 9, 2021.