Sustainability Management System

Chapter 2.3

Sustainability Management System

    Internal inputs include Syncrude’s Joint Venture Owners, who help guide overall mission, strategy and objectives, and expect us to operate responsibly on their behalf. The Owners oversee and provide direction to Syncrude’s sustainability work through the Board of Directors Safety, Health, Environment and Corporate Sustainability Committee. At the operational level, three key management systems provide the strategy, tools and discipline needed to focus on priority areas. A comprehensive Research and Development program enables innovation and continuous improvement (see discussion in the Finance, Operations and Resource Management chapter) in support of a safe, reliable and profitable operation.

    External inputs include all applicable laws and regulations, and Aboriginal and stakeholder expectations, which are formed in part by the findings of independent environmental monitoring programs. Industry best practices also feed into Syncrude’s pursuit of continuous improvement in all aspects of our business. Of these, Syncrude participates in four structured initiatives: the Toward Sustainable Mining program of the Mining Association of Canada; the Responsible Canadian Energy program of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers; the Progressive Aboriginal Relations program of the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business; and Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA).

    Our key Safety, Health and Environment Policy states our expectations for safety, health, environmental and responsible performance. A corporate code of ethics and business conduct policies guide employee actions.

    Safety, Health and Environment Policy

    At Syncrude, we are committed to protecting and promoting the safety and well-being of our employees, our contractors, our communities and our environment.

    We believe excellence and continuous improvement in environment, health and safety performance are in the best interest of all of our stakeholders. Our corporate success depends upon it.

    Our desired outcomes are a workplace where everyone upholds Syncrude’s Vision, Values and Guiding Principles, a workplace that fosters the emotional and physical well-being of employees, a workplace where incidents that could harm people or the environment do not occur, and a workplace where all employees and contractors demonstrate personal commitment to operational excellence. Toward this:

    • we aim for a safe and reliable operation where all risks that could compromise the health and safety of workers, or the environment, are identified, understood and managed
    • we meet all regulated standards for safety, health and environmental performance as the minimum expectation
    • we learn from best practices applied elsewhere and endeavour to incorporate such lessons into our practices and procedures
    • we integrate safety, health and environment considerations, along with economic factors, into all business decisions
    • Syncrude management takes a leadership role in advocating workplace health and safety, and environmental sustainability, in appropriate regional, provincial and national forums

    Through the efforts and collective experience of our employees and contractors, Syncrude will be an acknowledged leader in safety, health and environmental performance. We will continue to improve by working together and sharing responsibility for a healthy environment, as well as the safety and well-being of our co-workers, our families, our communities and ourselves.

    Code of Ethics and Business Conduct

    Syncrude’s Code of Ethics and Business Conduct policies are designed to foster the high level of ethical conduct expected by our many internal and external stakeholders. We steward the application of these policies and report periodically to the Board of Directors’ Audit and Business Controls Subcommittee and make representations to the Board to confirm compliance.

    All employees are formally trained in these matters upon hire and every four years thereafter. Employees receive an annual letter from the CEO as a reminder of these policies. All employees also must sign a certification stating they understand the policies – Administrative, Professional and Technical (APT) employees certify annually based on their increased exposure to potential situations and Occupational employees certify every four years.

    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 or 1.800.493.1866. This information is available internally to all staff, as well as through Syncrude’s external website at

    In 2014, 18 calls were received by EthicsPoint, of which one led to a confirmed breach of company ethics. Each call or submission received is reviewed and discussed with the Manager of Internal Audit and every effort is taken to pursue further information or clarification in order to launch an investigation. However, most calls are anonymous and often those who reported the concern do not respond to requests for further information. If no further information is received or disclosed after three months, the file is closed. For confirmed cases, all members of Syncrude’s Executive, including the Vice-President of the area involved, are notified.

    Coker pilot plant at Edmonton Research Centre.

    Management Systems

    Operations Integrity Management System (OIMS)

    ExxonMobil’s Operations Integrity Management System (OIMS) is being used throughout the Syncrude organization and brings a strong focus to the areas of safety, security, health and environmental performance within our organization. This system makes safety of people, facilities and the environment the centre of all decision making, establishing expectations and requirements for addressing operational risks, and ensuring third-party service suppliers meet our Safety, Health and Environmental standards.

    OIMS consists of 11 elements that address specific aspects of management common to all ExxonMobil operating facilities. From these, supplemental guidelines relevant to Syncrude’s operations have been developed.

    Internal assessments of each element occur annually, supported by quarterly performance stewardship. External assessments are conducted by trained experts from within the ExxonMobil network who verify performance and identify gaps or improvements as necessary.

    Global Reliability System

    ExxonMobil’s Global Reliability System (GRS) is integrated into our operation and is based on the principles of improving reliability and safety, and reducing costs. Its 20 elements provide a common framework for work practices and processes, and facilitate best practice sharing across our operations. This allows us to consistently apply developed practices.

    Controls Integrity Management System

    Syncrude’s commitment to conducting business in a well-controlled manner includes establishing effective controls, monitoring and enforcing compliance continuously, and resolving control weaknesses promptly. The Controls Integrity Management System (CIMS) provides a structured, common process for Syncrude to meet this commitment. It is based on the principles and standards in Syncrude’s Framework of Management Control and provides the key attributes of an effective control system to meet certain regulatory requirements. These controls meet or exceed the requirements of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in the United States, as well as applicable Canadian laws.

    Employee Compensation System

    Variable incentive pay for Syncrude employees is tied to the achievement of certain corporate metrics, including sustainability factors. The Impact 21 program, for example, rewards employees for achieving targets in safety, production and costs. It reinforces to all employees how their contributions are critical to meeting overall sustainability goals. Senior leaders, managers and executives are rewarded based on a broader array of metrics including safety, community relations, business controls, environmental performance and tailings management. All high priority sustainability risks, as identified in the material risk analysis discussed in the Our Sustainability Path chapter, are factors in the performance and compensation assessment.

    Regulatory Oversight

    Syncrude is subject to federal and provincial regulation. Environmental legislation requires various approvals and provides for restrictions and prohibitions on releases or emissions of substances produced or used in association with our operation. Legislation also requires that our facilities and sites be reclaimed to the satisfaction of provincial authorities. A breach may result in fines and penalties.

    Environmental compliance is primarily governed by the Alberta Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act. It imposes certain environmental responsibilities on Syncrude and, in certain instances, significant penalties for violations. Syncrude currently has all approvals needed to operate.

    Additional regulatory oversight was introduced in 2012 through the Lower Athabasca Regional Plan. The plan includes regulations and management frameworks for air, groundwater and surface water quality management. During its development, regulators considered input from an appointed advisory council as well as from the public, municipalities, and First Nations and Métis communities in the region. Status updates on various aspects of the plan can be found at

    Regional plans and regulation are informed by the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute (ABMI) which helps assess biodiversity outcomes through ongoing evaluation and research. More information on ABMI can be found in the Biodiversity chapter.

    A commitment to robust monitoring of our reclaimed areas provides valuable information on their long-term sustainability.

    Environmental Monitoring Programs

    Syncrude’s sustainability efforts are informed by inputs from a variety of external environmental monitoring programs. These have been subject to much public scrutiny in recent years; reviews by science leaders and some stakeholders suggest that further integration and better data are needed to understand and manage both short- and long-term ecosystem effects.

    As a result, the federal and Alberta governments both appointed expert advisory panels in late 2010 and early 2011, coming together in February 2012 to announce the Joint Oil Sands Monitoring Program. It is being implemented over three years and is managed by the Alberta Environmental Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Agency (AEMERA).

    The program will more than double to 165 the number of monitoring sites in and downstream/downwind of the oil sands region, including sites in the Northwest Territories and Saskatchewan. It will examine hundreds of contaminants that are not tested under existing programs, increase monitoring frequency, and calculate cumulative effects. It will incorporate Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), involving local Aboriginal people in monitoring activities. It is to be peer-reviewed regularly and all data and reports are to be made public in a timely way.

    Syncrude understands stakeholders expect effective, credible monitoring of our industry, and we welcome a new system that can instill public confidence in our efforts toward responsible development.

    More details on the program, including maps and data, can be accessed at the Canada-Alberta Oil Sands Environmental Monitoring Information Portal .

    Industry Best Practices

    Mining Association of Canada – Towards Sustainable Mining

    As a member of the Mining Association of Canada (MAC), Syncrude participates in the Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM) initiative. TSM is a set of guiding principles and performance indicators that govern key activities of companies in the mining and mineral-processing industry. Developed in collaboration with communities of interest and key stakeholders, these principles are mandated across MAC members and are embedded throughout Syncrude’s management systems.

    Specific measurement criteria in tailings management, energy and greenhouse gas emissions management, Aboriginal and community outreach, crisis management planning, safety and health, and biodiversity conservation are self-assessed and reported annually. Every three years, assessments are externally verified to ensure accuracy and transparency. Syncrude’s performance was verified by an independent auditor in 2013. We were verified to have high performance in all areas, but did not meet our targets for energy and greenhouse gas emissions, nor for safety due to a workplace fatality.

    TSM was recognized with a 2013 Excellence in Corporate Responsibility Award, sponsored by Green Living Enterprises, Canadian Business for Social Responsibility, CIRAIG (Interuniversity Research Centre for the Life Cycle of Products, Processes and Services), The Natural Step Canada, Jantzi-Sustainalytics, Corporate Knights, Pembina Institute, and SustainAbility.

    More information on the program and Syncrude’s performance ratings can be found at the TSM website .

    The South Bison Hills area was reclaimed from our West mine operation.

    Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers – Responsible Canadian Energy Program

    As a member of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, Syncrude participates in the Responsible Canadian Energy (RCE) program, which requires members to report their performance and progress in the areas of environment, health, safety and social stewardship.

    RCE provides common metrics for performance measurement and reporting, supporting CAPP members in the design and implementation of their internal systems and processes. It also enables sharing of success stories and best practices to elevate overall industry performance.

    An annual progress report updates stakeholders on issues and performance. It is reviewed by an external advisory group which provides feedback on the key performance indicators as well as overall structure and content.

    The program’s vision and principles, and its latest report, can be viewed at the CAPP website .

    Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business – Progressive Aboriginal Relations Program

    The Progressive Aboriginal Relations Program (PAR) is Canada’s only certification program with an exclusive focus on Aboriginal relations. It was developed as a framework for companies to measure progress on developing progressive Aboriginal relations and considers corporate efforts in Aboriginal employment, Aboriginal business development, building individual capacity and enhancing relations with Aboriginal communities. Certification includes independent verification and review by a jury composed of Aboriginal business people. Syncrude holds Gold PAR distinction, and has been accredited at this top level five times.


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