2012 Emissions factors
At last count, Suncor has more than 1,400 potential emission sources in our environmental database, which contribute to greenhouse gas (GHG) effects if released into the atmosphere. As measurement of multiple sources is challenging, we use regulator-approved emission factors for these potential chemical species.
As an integrated energy company spanning multiple jurisdictions and sectors with operations in oil sands development and upgrading, offshore oil and natural gas production, petroleum refining and renewable energy operations, Suncor uses several different externally developed and publicly accepted emission factor protocols, depending on which one is appropriate for the site-specific fuel type and composition, emission source, facility or jurisdiction being considered.
In addition to utilizing emission factors, some GHG emissions are calculated using process or equipment-specific consumption rates in units such as 'run-hours' and not fuel volumes. For example, an upstream in situ oil sands facility in northern Alberta will use different factors than a downstream refinery in Colorado, or a floating oil production platform off the East Coast of Canada. As required by regulators and verified by external auditors, Suncor uses internationally accepted GHG protocols and methodologies in determining its overall emissions profile.
Sometimes it is necessary to use a combination of standardized methodologies at a single facility due to site- and sector-specific details that may not be completely covered by a single standard or regulation. On occasion, more accurate emission factors, either measured, calculated from compositional data, or manufacturer-supplied, may be available for specific equipment, and these are used whenever and wherever appropriate.
As frequently as possible, Suncor calculates specific emission factors from actual measured data rather than applying generic estimated default factors. In other cases, such as when calculating indirect emissions from externally purchased electric power, Suncor uses factors primarily where prescribed by regulation, secondarily from site-specific factors if available, and American Petroleum Institute (API) or Environment Canada emission factors for remaining emission sources.
Many jurisdictions have or are in the process of developing prescriptive regulations that specify which factors can be used. For example, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and regulators in Western Climate Initiative (WCI) jurisdictions such as Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia, all required operators to use specified factors for the 2012 reporting year.
Alberta requires large emitting facilities to use the methodology and emission factors used in their site-specific government-approved Specified Gas Emitters Regulation (SGER) baseline, and changes cannot be made without restating and re-verifying the baseline and previous year's emissions. For the 2012 reporting year and for future reporting years, this program increased its scrutiny by requiring that all site submissions be verified to a reasonable level of assurance. In previous years, this requirement had been set at a limited (lower) level to allow sites and verifiers to adjust to the regulation and methods. As a result, site submissions for the 2012 reporting year were examined much more thoroughly by verifiers. Each of our sites that report through the SGER successfully generated positive (approved) verifications at this new level of assurance.
In addition, each subsector typically has industry-wide accepted standard methodologies developed by external agencies that operators can choose to use in the absence of prescribed methods. The standard practices and methodologies followed by Suncor are widely accepted, well-researched and documented so that the numbers produced are verifiable by governments and third parties and are consistently applied from year to year.
A partial list of these standard methodologies and guidance documents includes: