Tough times in the oil sands have raised questions about work undertaken by industry to accelerate its environmental performance.
After all, oil sands players (including Suncor) have publicly announced capital spending cuts and intentions to trim operating costs.
Will this intense cost management focus slow or halt work on reducing water consumption, land disturbance and energy use?
Boosting environmental performance
Suncor's executives have made it clear that driving improvements in environmental performance remains a top priority for the company in 2015.
Suncor is pursuing improvements both through internal efforts and by collaborative work with industry through our participation in Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA).
Suncor and COSIA made good progress in 2014 on the tailings, water, land and greenhouse gases focus areas. Suncor is strongly committed to COSIA's mandate and we'll be working hard with fellow member companies in coming months to ensure momentum of COSIA projects is sustained.
Sharing the cost of priority work allows Suncor to accomplish more than we could on our own at a lower cost (which is paramount in this part of the business cycle).
In some cases, Suncor leads research and development of new technologies, such as the SAGD LITE program (aimed at reducing energy and water use with a minimal implementation cost). In other instances, we collaborate through consortiums or third parties (as we’ve done to pursue waterless extraction methods like the N-Solv or ESEIEH pilots). We also monitor technologies developed by external parties to assess potential for using them in our business.
Another way Suncor is driving better results is through the adoption and pursuit of internal environmental performance goals, which ensure our efforts are directed to important areas.
Strategic programs in water consumption, reclamation of disturbed lands, energy efficiency and air emissions were established in 2009 with 2015 targets. Making progress toward these targets and planning for beyond 2015 will remain a high priority throughout 2015.
Keeping the pedal down on work to accelerate environmental performance is a critical job which needs to continue.
Finding ways to develop this long-term resource with fewer environmental impacts only makes sense, especially given its important role as part of our energy mix.