2010 GHG Performance

Suncor is constantly looking for better ways to manage and mitigate our GHG emissions. Here's a snapshot of Suncor's successes in 2010—and the challenges that remain as we move forward.

Successes

  • Achieved GHG emissions intensity reductions. Suncor continued to make progress in reducing the carbon intensity (the amount of GHG emitted for each barrel of oil produced) of its operations. While these intensity improvements do not involve absolute reductions, they are still very real as they result in fewer incremental GHG emissions. Our Ethanol plant GHG intensity dropped by almost 10% and the Edmonton Refinery GHG intensity dropped by roughly 15% since 2009. These intensity decreases were mainly due to improved operational reliability and productivity.
  • Targeted energy efficiency. As one of its four environmental performance goals announced in 2009, Suncor is targeting a 10% improvement in energy efficiency across its operations by 2015 (as compared to 2007). We conducted extensive reviews of our energy use to identify potential savings in 2009 and began implementing new energy management measures in 2010.
  • Invested in technology and innovation. Working with industry partners and governments, Suncor continued to invest in research to advance new technologies, including carbon capture and storage (CCS). In particular, as part of the CO2 Capture Project, Suncor is leading collaborative research and development project that could improve the prospects for implementing CCS at in-situ oil sands sites.
  • Expanded commitment to renewable energy. Suncor continued to make industry-leading investments in renewable energy projects. In 2011, we completed a $120 million expansion of our ethanol production facility near Sarnia, Ontario, that doubled plant capacity to 400 million litres a year. We also began construction on two additional wind power projects, expected to begin operation in 2011. Suncor continues to advocate for the development and commercialization of advanced biofuels.
  • Improved collaboration. Suncor continued to work with the Oil Sands Leadership Initiative (OSLI), comprised of five progressive oil sands companies, to find new ways to collaborate on emissions-reducing innovations. In particular, OSLI is investigating advances in in situ reservoir technology to make oil recovery more energy-efficient—an essential step to better managing the additional greenhouse gas emissions that will result from industry growth. Suncor also continued to work with Carbon Management Canada (CMC), a national network of university researchers funded by the federal and provincial governments, as well as industry. One of CMC’s key mandates is to investigate cost-effective, carbon-efficient techniques for extracting and processing fossil fuels. Visit CMC for more information.
  • Advanced public policy discussions.Suncor took an increasingly active role in public policy discussions related to energy and the environment. We worked to advance discussions on a proposed national energy strategy for Canada that would include targets and goals for reducing GHG emissions. We also developed a policy model and proposed alternative to recently introduced low carbon fuel standards (LCFS) regulations.

Challenges

  • Dealing with absolute GHG emissions. As production grows, absolute emissions will continue to grow. This poses a serious challenge—one that is unlikely to be addressed through energy efficiency measures alone. Initiatives such as Alberta's Climate Change and Emissions Management Fund, designed to promote emissions-reducing research and technology, will be part of the solution.
  • The need for further public policy clarity. It remains difficult to assess many GHG reduction opportunities, and the required capital investments, until there is clarity in the climate change policies Canada and the United States intend to pursue. We also need to see greater harmonization across jurisdictions to avoid overlap and inefficiencies.
  • The current high potential cost of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology. The latest cost estimates for implementing CCS indicate it may not be a cost-effective option for most oil sands operations at this time. Suncor will continue to work with industry and government to improve the commercial viability of this technology in appropriate applications.
  • Introduction of low carbon fuel standards (LCFS). California has formally adopted an LCFS that could present an obstacle to oil sands sourced transportation fuels supplying the state in the future. The European Union has adopted similar regulations. Suncor believes such LCFS regulations could unfairly penalize a secure, proximal and plentiful supply of transportation fuel - particularly considering recent independent studies that indicate, on a “wells-to-wheels” basis, oil sands sourced fuels are actually less carbon-intensive than many other sources of petroleum supply needed to handle the world’s energy demand—including heavy oils produced in California. Several jurisdictions that were originally considering implementation of an LCFS have taken a pause on development of this type of regulation, in consideration of the degree of complexity required to properly administer it, and the increased sense of ineffectiveness of such a program in terms of achieving any real GHG reductions. Instead, Suncor is advocating for a Renewable Fuel Standard that accelerates the development of advanced biofuels, combined with a low carbon transportation framework that addresses the full life cycle of GHGs produced in the transportation sector, including vehicle fuel efficiency standards and reducing vehicle kilometres traveled.

For additional LCFS information visit these websites:

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