(Reuters) – Canada’s second-biggest oil company, Suncor Energy Inc, said on Thursday it had started a third-party safety review, after three contract workers died in two separate mining accidents.
Chief Executive Mark Little said the review would focus on mining operations, which are one of the ways the company extracts crude from Alberta’s oil sands. It is scheduled for completion this quarter.
“As devastating as this has been for all of us, I can’t even comprehend how difficult this is on the families,” Little said, before pausing the quarterly conference call to hold a moment of silence for the workers.
A man died last month when a bulldozer he was driving fell through the ice of a tailings pond at Suncor’s base mine near Fort McMurray, Alberta.
In December, a bulldozer hit a truck at the Fort Hills, Alberta, site, killing two workers.
Alberta’s occupational health and safety department is investigating both incidents.
They follow accidents during construction of Trans Mountain Corp’s oil pipeline expansion, causing it to halt work temporarily.
Suncor on Wednesday said it narrowed its fourth-quarter loss on cost-saving measures.
Even as oil prices rise, Little ruled out any increase to 2021 capital-spending plans, a range of C$3.8 billion ($2.96 billion) to C$4.5 billion. Suncor has restarted work on its cogeneration project, which will replace coke-fired boilers with natural gas units at its base operations, and its Forty Mile wind farm in Alberta.
Two-thirds of additional funds from rising prices will repay debt, while one-third will buy back shares, Chief Financial Officer Alister Cowan said.
Suncor sold its 27% stake in the Golden Eagle fields for $325 million to North Sea oil producer EnQuest.
($1 = 1.2830 Canadian dollars)
Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg; Editing by Matthew Lewis