Suncor delays Fort Hills oil sands mine, upgrader "challenged"

CALGARY, Alberta, Nov 1 (Reuters) - Suncor Energy Inc said on Thursday that it may delay completion of its planned Fort Hills oil sands mine by a year, with production now slated to start in 2017, as it reviews the profitability of its expansion plans.

Steven Williams, the chief executive of Canada's largest oil and gas company, also said on a conference call that the economics of its planned Voyageur oil sands upgrader are ``challenged'' as North America's production of light crude oil rises. Upgraders convert tar-like bitumen from the oil sands into refinery-ready synthetic crude.

Both the upgrader and the Fort Hills mine are part of a joint venture with Total SA of France.