Syncrude's operations begin long before mining commences and finish long after the final scoop of oil sand is dug from a mine.
By clicking on this interactive process wheel, you are invited to learn more about the lifecyle of our operations and our approach to oil sands development.
Vegetation specialists manage native plants, shrubs and trees to recreate diverse boreal forest ecosystems. About a quarter of our footprint has either been fully reclaimed or is undergoing reclamation. Around six million tree and shrub seedlings have been planted in these areas. Syncrude is the first oil sands operator to receive government certification for reclaimed land. Certification was received in 2008 for a 104-hectare area known as Gateway Hill, which was planted in the early 1980s.
Surveys and core sample drilling help us to gain better understanding of the oil sands resource on undeveloped leases, its quality and distance from the surface. Environmental assessments are also completed to provide a complete picture of local ecosystems, vegetation and geographical features to inform future reclamation. The oil sands found on Syncrude's leases are accessed via mining operations. Syncrude does not operate in situ facilities.
Stakeholder and Customer Consultation
Syncrude consults with a wide range of interested groups and individuals about our plans. The input and expectations of stakeholders are integral to the decisions we make today and how we plan for the future. Furthermore, Syncrude and its owners work continuously to understand present and future requirements for refinery customers that process our Syncrude Crude Oil blend. These requirements are influenced by regulators and by end-use customers.
Research and Development
Science and technology provide the keys to unlocking the potential of the oil sands resource and improving our performance. In this area, Syncrude leads the way with one of the few dedicated corporate R&D programs in the oil sands industry. We are among the top 50 corporate R&D spenders in Canada, investing about $60 million annually in the pursuit of new and better ways and currently hold 137 active Canadian and U.S. patents. More than 100 scientists and technologists work at our Research and Development Centre in Edmonton, and many more are engaged in research at a fundamental level through their work at universities and research institutes.
Purchase of Goods and Services
Syncrude helps sustain local and regional economies through the purchase of goods and services. In 2010/11, non-energy procurement amounted to about $8.1 billion. Governments also benefit through Syncrude's payment of taxes and royalties—$2.5 billion in 2010/11 and $14.7 billion since 1978.
Construction and Operations
Whether it's fabrication, new construction or ongoing maintenance activities, we directly and indirectly employ many thousands of people across the country. In fact, Syncrude is one of the largest employers of Aboriginal people in Canada. Syncrude is seen as an employer of choice in the region, with 89 percent of job offers accepted. Syncrude has also been recognized as one of Alberta's top 50 employers and named one of the nation's top employers for new Canadians and young people.
Utilities produce steam, electricity and air, and treat the water, required to run plant operations. Syncrude is a net exporter to the Alberta power grid, producing more electricity than it uses.
Shovels and trucks remove muskeg, overburden and earth overlying the oil sands at Syncrude's Mildred Lake and Aurora sites. This material is put aside for reclamation activities. Shovels and trucks mine the oil sand, which is mixed with warm water to create a slurry that is pumped by pipeline to our extraction facilities.
The slurry is fed into separation vessels, where the bitumen floats to the surface as froth. This froth is diluted with naphtha and fed into centrifuges, which spin out water and solids. Finally, the naphtha is removed, leaving clean bitumen, which is piped to our upgrading operation.
The cleaned bitumen goes into one of Syncrude's three fluid cokers or a hydrocracker, where it is thermally cracked into hydrocarbon gases, naphtha and gas oils. The hydrocarbon gases are treated for use as refinery fuel. The naphtha and gas oils are further treated and blended into high quality light, sweet crude oil.
Delivery of Crude Oil
Syncrude Crude Oil becomes the property of the Joint Venture owners upon being shipped from our site. The oil is transported by pipelines to refineries throughout North America, where it is turned into gasoline and diesel fuels, jet fuels and chemical feedstocks. Syncrude is not responsible for marketing our product.
Mine Completion and Land Formation
After mining is complete, work starts to reclaim the land. Overburden, sand and/or tailings fill up former mines. Geotechnical engineers guide the design of the landscape while placement of muskeg, peat and organic matter from the forest floor are transferred from future mine areas.
Syncrude is one of the largest operators in Canada's growing oil sands industry, with a 34-year history of responsible operations and ongoing innovation.
Based in Fort McMurray, Alberta, Syncrude operates technologically-advanced oil sands mines, extraction and upgrading facilities, as well as utilities plants. A large research and development facility in Edmonton supports operations and has pioneered many of the technologies used today in the industry. Current production capacity is 350,000 barrels per day of high quality light, sweet crude oil, and cumulative production now exceeds 2.2 billion barrels.
The Syncrude Project is a Joint Venture undertaking among Canadian Oil Sands Partnership #1 (36.74%), Imperial Oil Resources (25%), Mocal Energy Limited (5%), Murphy Oil Company Ltd. (5%), Nexen Oil Sands Partnership (7.23%), Sinopec Oil Sands Partnership (9.03%), and Suncor Energy Oil and Gas Partnership (12%).
This report is a comprehensive discussion of the environmental, social and economic impacts of Syncrude's business activities during 2010 and 2011. This is our eighth sustainability report, which will be published on an annual basis going forward. More information about Syncrude and access to past reports, including our most recent 2008-09 edition, can be found through the contacts listed at the end of the Corporate Information chapter.
The long life and high quality resource base of Syncrude's oil sands leases provide our Joint Venture participants with a sound platform for continued sustainable operations and future growth. All of Syncrude's leases can be mined and are among the best in the Athabasca deposit for quality of ore, low stripping ratios, and low total volume-to-bitumen in place, all of which enhance the economics of the Syncrude project. Syncrude uses the Dean & Stark extraction quality assurance method to test core samples and provide an accurate picture of the oil contained within its leases.
Syncrude Canada Ltd. is a private company incorporated under the Business Corporations Act of Alberta.
Syncrude's bylaws stipulate that shares in the corporation may be held only by the shareholders in proportion to their interest in the Syncrude Project, a joint venture, and that Syncrude Canada Ltd. may not carry on business or activities other than to act as operator of the Syncrude Project on behalf of the shareholders.
The Board of Directors of Syncrude is responsible for providing corporate oversight and direction. The Board of Directors takes seriously its duties and responsibilities, and it is the view of the Board that its approach in directing the business of Syncrude Canada Ltd. is comprehensive, effective and consistent with generally accepted standards of Canadian corporate governance. The whole Board meets at least annually and fulfills all statutory and other legal requirements that have not been delegated to the Committees of the Board. There are four Committees of the Board, which meet on a more frequent basis: CEO Committee; Human Resources & Compensation Committee; Pension Committee; and Safety, Health, Environment & Corporate Sustainability Committee. The Board and its Committees are composed of Directors appointed by the shareholders of the Corporation.
The CEO Committee assists the Board in providing corporate direction and oversight for the Corporation's business and strategic plans and specific matters pertaining to its executive and senior management team, including:
The Human Resources & Compensation Committee assists the Board in providing corporate direction and oversight for the Corporation's principal compensation and benefit programs and human resource policies and succession plans, including:
The Pension Committee assists the Board in providing corporate direction and oversight for the Corporation's responsibilities as administrator of the Retirement Plan for Employees of Syncrude Canada Ltd. and Member Corporations ("Retirement Plan") pursuant to the Employment Pension Plans Act ("Act"), including:
The Safety, Health, Environment & Corporate Sustainability Committee assists the Board in fulfilling its corporate direction and oversight responsibilities for the Corporation's safety, health and environmental requirements, policies, practices, compliance systems and performance, and in monitoring current and future trends in safety, health and environmental laws and practices, including:
Each of the Participants of the Syncrude Project, a joint venture, appoints two representatives to the Management Committee, which meets regularly and provides oversight and governance for the project on behalf of the Participants. The weight assigned to each Participant's vote through the Management Committee is proportionate to its interest in the Syncrude Project.
The Management Committee reviews and approves the Syncrude Project's strategic plans, business plans, annual budget and major capital appropriations. In addition, it reviews overall performance, both operationally and financially.
The Management Committee is chaired by one of its members. The current Chair is Marcel Coutu, Chief Executive Officer of Canadian Oil Sands Limited.
The Management Committee has created subcommittees and delegated the indicated powers and duties to support Syncrude and the Participants. Each Participant, as well as Syncrude, is entitled to nominate two representatives to each of the subcommittees. Each subcommittee reports to the Management Committee, which appoints the chair and secretary of each subcommittee.
The Subcommittee assists the Management Committee of the Syncrude Project on operations matters, including:
The Subcommittee assists the Management Committee of the Syncrude Project on capital growth and development opportunities, including:
The Subcommittee oversees all aspects of Syncrude's internal control systems and financial and related disclosures as required by law and good accounting practice, including:
Syncrude has a Code of Ethics and several other Business Conduct policies that are designed to foster a high level of ethical conduct expected by our many internal and external stakeholders. The Corporation stewards the application of these policies and reports regularly periodically to the Audit and Business Controls Subcommittee and makes representations to the Board to confirm compliance. In addition to internal processes, Syncrude has an external system for the reporting of concerns about corporate conduct. Employees, contractors and members of the public may file their concerns anonymously and confidentially through EthicsPoint, at www.ethicspoint.com or 1-800-493-1866. This information is available internally and through Syncrude's external website at www.syncrude.com.
Chairman of the Board
President and CEO
Vice President, Strategic Planning
Chief Financial Officer and Vice President, Business Services
General Counsel and Corporate Secretary
Pricewaterhouse Coopers LLP
111-5th Avenue S.W., Suite 3100
Calgary, AB T2P 5L3
In the interest of providing readers of this report with information regarding Syncrude, including management's assessment of Syncrude's future technologies, emissions and production levels and Syncrude operations, certain statements and graphs throughout this sustainability report contain "forward-looking information" under applicable securities law. Forward-looking statements in this report include, but are not limited to, statements and graphs with respect to: the expectations regarding Syncrude's sustainability initiatives in the areas of land use and biodiversity, water, tailings, Aboriginal relations, regulatory and government relations, employment and labour, community, air quality, energy and climate change and safety and health; the expected emission reductions relating to the Syncrude emissions reduction project (the "SER Project"); the anticipated start-up date of the SER Project; the expectations with respect to reducing emissions such as nitrogen oxide; the expected improvement in energy efficiency; the expected reduction in emissions of carbon dioxide; the estimated value and amount of reserves recoverable; the timing and amount of bitumen production from Aurora South; the expectation that the mine train relocations/replacements should position Syncrude for as many as 20 years of production at current rates; the land reclamation plans and targets; Syncrude's tailings management plan and the timeline for the implementation of the various components of such plan; the anticipated benefits resulting from the tailings management technologies (water capping, composite tails, centrifuged tails, filtration of tailings water and rough mulching); the expectation that Syncrude's tailings management plan will enable Syncrude to meet the long term intent of ERCB Directive 074 as of 2015 and the timeline for the implementation of the ExxonMobil Operations Integrity Management System.
The factors or assumptions on which the forward-looking information is based include, but are not limited to: the successful and timely implementation of capital projects; major project spending plans; the ability to obtain regulatory and Syncrude joint venture owner approval; the continuation of assumed tax, royalty and regulatory regimes and the success of the tailings management technologies.
You are cautioned not to place undue reliance on forward looking statements, as there can be no assurance that the plans, intentions or expectations upon which they are based will occur. By their nature, forward looking statements involve numerous assumptions, known and unknown risks and uncertainties, both general and specific, that contribute to the possibility that the predictions, forecasts, projections and other forward-looking statements will not occur. Although Syncrude believes that the expectations represented by such forward-looking statements are reasonable and reflect the current views of Syncrude, there can be no assurance that such expectations will prove to be correct.
Some of the risks and other factors that could cause results to differ materially from those expressed in the forward-looking statements contained in this sustainability report include, but are not limited to: the impact of technology on operations and processes and how new complex technology may not perform as expected; risks inherent to the operation of any large, complex refinery units, especially the integration between mining operations and an upgrader facility; changes in business strategy; imprecision of reserve and resource estimates; regulatory decisions; the effects of competition and pricing pressures; shifts in market demands; potential increases in costs; timing of completion of capital or maintenance projects; various events which could disrupt operations including severe weather conditions; technological changes; management retention and development; skilled labour shortages and the productivity achieved from labour in the Fort McMurray area; the supply and demand metrics for oil and natural gas; the unanimous joint venture owner approval for major expansions; the impact of Syncrude being unable to meet the conditions of its approval for its tailings management plan under ERCB Directive 074; the impacts of legislative or regulatory changes, especially as such relate to royalties, taxation, the environment and tailings and such other risks and uncertainties described from time to time in the reports and filings made with regulatory authorities by Syncrude.
You are cautioned that the foregoing list of important factors is not exhaustive. Furthermore, the forward-looking statements contained in this report are made as of the date of this report and unless required by law, Syncrude does not undertake any obligation to update publicly or to revise any of the included forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. The forward-looking statements contained in this report are expressly qualified by this cautionary statement.
The Index has included Joint Venture owner Canadian Oil Sands Limited since 2006, recognizing the performance of the Syncrude Project through a set of broadly based environmental, social and governance rating criteria. Jantzi Research is Canada's leading provider of social and environmental research for institutional investors.
Further information about Syncrude's business performance and investing in Syncrude can be obtained through the web sites listed here.
Canadian Oil Sands Limited
(COS – TSX)
Imperial Oil Resources
(IMO – TSX/AMEX)
Mocal Energy Limited
(5020 – TSE)
Murphy Oil Company Ltd.
(MUR – NYSE)
(NXY – TSX/NYSE)
(386. HK – HKEX, 600028 – SSE, SNP – NYSE/LSE)
(SU – TSX/NYSE)
Syncrude has many partners in its sustainability journey. Together, we are working to address and improve the economic, environmental and social performance of Canada's resource industry. In many cases, Syncrude is a leading contributor through the provision of staff expertise and funding. Readers are invited to learn more by visiting the websites listed below.
Aboriginal Human Resource Council
Alberta Chamber of Resources
Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers
Canadian Business for Social Responsibility
Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business
Canadian Oil Sands Network for Research and Development
Mining Association of Canada
Oil Sands Developers Group
Responsible Canadian Energy™ (RCE) is an industry performance program developed by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) with support and leadership from across the upstream oil and gas industry. The program is about performance and reflects industry's ongoing commitment to responsible resource development and to continuous improvement in environment, safety and health, and social performance.
Syncrude is a participant in the Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM) initiative of the Mining Association of Canada, which is a strategy for improving the sustainability performance of Canada's mining industry.
Syncrude is a member of Canadian Business for Social Responsibility (CBSR), a business-led, non-profit Corporate Social Responsibility consultancy and peer-to-peer learning organization. CBSR provides its members with candid counsel and customized advisory services to improve their social, environmental and financial performance.
Syncrude is accredited at the Gold Level in the Progressive Aboriginal Relations (PAR) Program of the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business. PAR measures corporate performance in Aboriginal employment, business development, capacity development and community relations.
Syncrude is a participant in the Integrated CO2 Network, or ICO2N, which is exploring the viability of large-scale carbon capture, transportation and storage for a cross-section of Canadian industry.