NEWS
06/01/2016 07:12 EDT | Updated 06/02/2017 01:12 EDT

Wildfire delay pushes full ramp-up of Husky's Sunrise oilsands project into 2017

CALGARY — Husky Energy has pushed back the date to achieve full production at its Sunrise oilsands project to early 2017, from late 2016, because of an unscheduled shutdown last month as wildfires burned near Fort McMurray, Alta.

The Calgary-based company says the project was restarted in the past week after being suspended starting May 7.

Sunrise injects steam into horizontal wells to melt the heavy, sticky bitumen and allow it to be pumped to the surface. 

Husky vice-president John Myer says steaming was shut down for a few days but then was restarted to maintain the underground temperature and allow a quicker production restart.

Myer's comments were webcast from Husky's investor day in Toronto on Wednesday,

Some of the 80,000 residents of Fort McMurray, which was evacuated because of the wildfire, are being allowed back into the city. Husky says it's using an airstrip to gradually bring its workers back to its oilsands operation in the area.

Analysts estimate more than one million barrels per day of output was taken offline by several companies as wildfires raged through the heart of Alberta's oilsands region.

Husky wouldn't say what how much Sunrise is currently producing. It was producing more than 30,000 barrels per day when shut down began.

Sunrise was commissioned last year and is expected to reach a capacity of about 60,000 barrels per day.