Some critics of oil sands development have suggested that companies should divest of these resources and acquire new assets with a lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emission footprint.
Underpinning this notion are increasing concerns about climate change, intensified by the recent science update from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In its September 2013 Assessment Report, the IPCC confirmed that most of the world’s climate scientists agree that global temperatures are rising and that greenhouse gases emissions from burning fossil fuels are a key culprit.
More renewables, more natural gas, less oil sands
The request of oil and gas companies is to become part of the climate change solution by quickly reallocating capital away from oil production and toward natural gas, wind, solar, geothermal, and other ‘clean’ energy sources.
The argument suggests that the divestiture of oil sands assets would help accelerate the transition of today’s hydrocarbon-based energy system to one that generates significantly less GHG emissions.
Critics maintain that companies sticking with conventional oil or oil sands crude are suffering from ‘marketing myopia.’
But does abandoning oil sands development in favour of lower carbon fuel sources really make sense? While we can’t speak for our peers, exiting the oil business right now doesn’t make sense for Suncor, and it probably doesn’t make sense for meeting the energy demands of a 9-billion-person planet either.
Why? Oil remains one of the best energy sources available. And rather than divesting our assets to a third party that may not share our commitment to innovation, technology and efficiency, we believe we should focus our efforts on developing this resource in the best, most effective way possible.
Also, when it comes to meeting our insatiable appetite for mobility, oil simply can’t be beat. With its portability and energy density, oil-based transportation fuels are ideal for meeting our need to get around.
Developing countries will also continue to need oil in the years ahead. Especially, as they look to raise their overall standards of living.
And, of course, Suncor has a fiduciary duty to shareholders, an obligation to Canadians - the owners of the oil sands resource - and a commitment to employees and community members who live in areas we operate in, to develop the oil sands resource profitably and responsibly.
Suncor’s raison d'etre is to develop its reserves into products that are proven to meet the world’s critical energy needs. It’s also to do it in a way that creates significant economic and social value while minimizing environmental impacts.
Suncor’s business strategy is focused on delivering an energy source that’s superior to known alternatives (especially for transportation fuels) – an energy source that will continue to be in demand for decades to come.
Investing in renewables
Renewables are a viable energy source and will certainly play an increasingly important role in our energy system in the years to come. That’s why Suncor and other oil and gas producers have invested in these sources and have developed some of the largest and most successful renewable projects around.
As participants in today’s energy reality, Suncor and its peers clearly have roles to play in helping transition our current energy system to a less GHG-intensive version. We believe Suncor can contribute by providing a safe, affordable and secure energy supply while producing and using it in a less GHG-intensive way.