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oil sands

A Suncor processing plant near the Athabasca River near Fort McMurray, Alta., in 2014.Todd Korol/Reuters

Alberta's wildfires took their toll on Suncor Energy Inc. in the second quarter, squelching production and resulting in a major net loss as the company was forced to shut down much of its oil sands operation.

Suncor was the oil-sands producer most affected by mass evacuations and outages when the fire nicknamed "the Beast" roared into Fort McMurray, Alta., in May, damaging large parts of the city and burning through forests in the oil sands region. Industry-wide, off-line production was pegged at more than one million barrels a day for part of the month.

Suncor's own base plant as well as Syncrude Canada Ltd., in which it has a 54-per-cent interest, were taken off line until the fire and health hazards had past. Suncor said the operations are now largely back up.

But in the second quarter, overall production averaged 330,700 barrels a day, down 41 per cent from the same period in 2015. Finances were also hit by lower oil prices and a maintenance outage at an oil sands processing unit.

The company lost a net $735-million, or 45 cents a share, down from a year-earlier profit of $729-million, or 50 cents a share.

Besides the lost sales, the company incurred $50-million in costs related to the evacuations and restart of production in the oil sands, it said.

Canada's largest oil company has bulked up amid the oil-industry downturn, acquiring Canadian Oil Sands Ltd. for $4.2-billion early this year, then snapping up Murphy Oil Corp.'s 5 per cent stake in Syncrude for $937-million. In June, it launched its first share issue from treasury, garnering proceeds of $2.8-billion and sparking speculation that it may have more acquisitions in mind.

Suncor's shares are down about 3 per cent year to date.