Get the latest update on Suncor’s environmental progress in the 2014 Report on sustainability

Suncor’s progress on environmental goals – 2014 Report on sustainability

Get the latest on Suncor’s progress towards our environmental goals in the 2014 Report on sustainability

Find out how Suncor’s performing on our environmental and sustainability goals in the 2014 Report on sustainability

View the latest Report on Sustainability

Goals and progress

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Five years ago, we set an industry precedent by adopting a series of strategic performance goals on water consumption, reclamation of disturbed lands, energy efficiency and air emissions.

The target year for these planned improvements is 2015, with a baseline year of 2007. The goals were established in 2009 and take into account improvements to our existing operations as well as new technologies.

Why environmental performance goals?

We developed these environmental performance goals to further demonstrate our sustainability leadership and commitment to responsible energy development.

Each goal relates to a significant aspect of our environmental performance and was identified as a priority measure to address:

  • business and environmental risk
  • concerns expressed by stakeholders
  • a means to further our commitment to environmental sustainability

Progress toward 2015 environmental performance targets

We continue to identify capital projects and operational initiatives that will help us move toward the successful achievement of these goals.

Our baselines have been set to include all currently operated assets. Over time, baselines may be adjusted to reflect changes in our operated portfolio resulting from acquisitions and divestitures. In 2013, we had divestures in North America Onshore; therefore, the baseline and the goals were adjusted to reflect the changes of these divestitures.

What follows is a brief description of our four environmental performance goals and how we plan to accomplish them. All of the proposed environmental improvements are absolute with the exception of energy efficiency, which is intensity based.

Please note: Environmental performance data presented here may differ from that provided elsewhere in our 2014 Report on sustainability. One of the reasons for this difference is that historical environmental performance data that we use to report on our environmental performance goals has been adjusted to reflect acquisitions and divestitures.

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Reduce fresh water consumption (the amount of fresh-water withdrawn minus the amount of water returned to the environment) by 12% by 2015*

Fresh water is a key resource for each of our business units. It is also of critical importance to our stakeholders, communities and employees. Reducing our fresh water consumption means:

  • reducing our fresh water intake
  • increasing our return of water to the environment through improved water treatment

A 12% reduction in total fresh water consumption by 2015 was ambitious but we have successfully implemented several initiatives that are helping us meet this goal, with more initiatives in various planning stages.

As we pursue our goal of reducing fresh water consumption, all of our operated upstream and downstream operations are realizing opportunities for more sustainable water use. We are paying particular attention to our existing oil sands mining operations, which represents our biggest draw on fresh water resources. We continue to identify projects that will further reduce our water consumption and are evaluating opportunities to distribute water throughout our northeast Alberta assets to improve our overall water efficiency.

The water performance metrics (2007-2012) were updated in 2013 to include historical industrial runoff withdrawal as described in the Oil Sands and Refining & Marketing performance sections of this report.

Suncor water use reduction goals and progress

Historical water consumption numbers were updated upon divestitures to reflect assets operated as of Dec. 31, 2013. From 2011 to 2013, the fresh water consumption metric for Oil Sands, In Situ, and Refining & Marketing (R&M) was updated to include industrial runoff withdrawal as described in the Oil Sands, In Situ, and R&M Performance Indicators section of the Report on sustainability. The water goal performance metrics (2007-2013) have therefore been updated to reflect this change.

Read more about water

Increase reclamation of disturbed land area by 100% by 2015*

To achieve the proposed 100% increase in land reclamation by 2015 (or double our 2007 baseline), we aimed to significantly increase our yearly reclamation performance. We have developed more aggressive reclamation plans including new technologies, which will help steward toward the goal.

We also recognize the importance of wetland reclamation. In 2013, we reclaimed a 32-hectare fen wetland watershed, named the Nikanotee Fen. This made us one of the first companies in the world to construct a peat-accumulating wetland common to the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. Work continued on monitoring reclaimed marsh wetlands and advancing techniques for boreal swamp reclamation in the oil sands. Oil Sands implemented one of the largest tree-planting programs in our history with 590,000 seedlings, and celebrated more than 6.5 million trees planted to date.

Suncor land reclaimation goals and progress

Historical land reclamation numbers were updated upon divestitures to reflect assets operated as of Dec. 31, 2013. Oil Sands and In Situ data reflect the updates described in the Performance Indicators section of the Report on sustainability.

Learn more about reclamation

Improve energy efficiency by 10% by 2015*

In 2009, we set an ambitious goal of achieving a 10% improvement in energy efficiency. Since that time, our growth strategy has introduced additional in situ projects with intrinsically higher steam to oil ratios. The 2009 merger with Petro-Canada also introduced a broader base of assets, including offshore production, into our portfolio. Offshore production has relatively low energy intensity at peak production but our assets have seen an increase in energy intensity as our wells have been depleted over the goal period.

To reflect this reality, we have developed a 2015 energy efficiency performance target and a complementary longer-term energy intensity goal. The energy efficiency target refers to operating our existing assets as efficiently as possible. The longer-term energy intensity goal reflects a desire to reduce the inherent amount of energy needed to produce our resources, regardless of the type of resource being developed. Currently, the energy intensity of our operations varies significantly according to asset mix and required degree of processing and upgrading of bitumen.

The energy efficiency target will require each of our business units to reduce their energy intensity by approximately 10% as compared to our 2007 baseline year. The 2015 target has become an interim step for delivering measurable progress toward the ultimate post-2015 goal.

A major part of achieving this reduction is the implementation of a corporate Energy Management System (EMS), which will be fully implemented at all our major operated sites by the end of 2014. To date, EMS has been implemented at three refineries: Commerce City, Edmonton and Montreal, at our lubricants facility in Mississauga, and at Oil Sands base plant (Extraction, Energy & Utilities, and Upgrading). EMS implementation at our Sarnia refinery and at our in situ facilities (MacKay River and Firebag) is underway, and will be completed by the end of 2014.

Preliminary results from our EMS implementation have been very promising. We have seen typical improvement in energy intensity of between 2% and 3% achieved shortly after implementation. Sites have also identified and commenced implementation of cost-effective energy efficiency project opportunities which have the potential to result in additional energy savings in the range of 3% to 5%.

The longer-term energy intensity goal reflects our intent to reduce our overall company-wide energy intensity by 10% from our 2007 baseline. This target is challenging given our oil sands focused growth strategy. Achieving this longer-term goal requires committed investment into the development and deployment of new process flow schemes and technologies in order to achieve both incremental and transformative changes in our overall energy intensity.

In 2013/2014, the long-term energy goal is being reviewed in the context of developing our post-2015 sustainability goals. Emerging climate change policies coupled with stakeholder expectations have emphasized the need for technology advancement. We are evaluating how to best achieve our desired greenhouse gas reduction outcomes.

Please note: The energy intensity metrics used to support this environmental performance goal are different from those found in the Performance Indicators section of this report due to the production definitions used. The environmental performance goal process is based on business unit performance; therefore, the production numbers reflect the net performance within each business unit. The performance indicators are corporate-wide net metrics; therefore, the performance indicator production numbers are lower than the sum of individual business unit production used in the environmental performance goals.

Suncor energy efficiency goals and progress

The energy intensity metrics for the Environmental Excellence Performance Goal are different from the Performance Indicators section of the Report on sustainability due to the production definitions used. The Environmental Excellence process is based on business unit performance; therefore, production numbers reflect the net performance within each business unit. The Performance Indicators are corporate-wide net metrics with inter-company production transfer removed; therefore, the Performance Indicator production numbers are lower than the sum of individual business unit production used in the Environmental Excellence Performance Goals.

In addition, historical intensity numbers were updated upon divestitures to reflect assets operated as of Dec. 21, 2013. Energy consumption numbers for Refining & Marketing (R&M) pipelines were updated back to 2010 due to the inclusion of additional sources identified, and R&M terminals’ energy consumption is not included here.

Reduce air emissions (nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide and volatile organic compounds) by 10% by 2015*

A 10% absolute reduction in total nitrogen oxide (NOx), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions (total tonnes emitted) is an extremely challenging goal given our growing oil sands mining and in situ assets. An increase in production typically results in higher air emissions, making absolute reductions more difficult in growth areas. Several measures will help to minimize these increases:

  • improved reliability of operations and optimization
  • equipment upgrades and replacement
  • installation of air emissions control technologies

There are many commonalities between our energy efficiency and air emissions goals; however, the ability to implement existing air emission technologies improves our opportunity to achieve this goal.

Historical data updates were made to 2011 Oil Sands and 2009 – 2011 Refining & Marketing air emission numbers due to updates in emission factors and inclusion of additional sources.

Suncor air emissions goals and progress

Historical air emission numbers were updated upon divestitures to reflect assets operated as of Dec. 31, 2013. The decrease in VOC emissions values in 2013 as compared to previous years is as a result of Suncor’s effort to quantify the fugitive emissions more accurately from operations. Extensive sampling conducted in Oil Sands mining areas, dedicated disposal areas (DDAs) and ponds refined sampling methods equated to a considerable decrease in the fugitive VOC emissions values for 2013 compared to historical values and has contributed to the reduction in total air emissions values. Also, an increase in VOC emissions testing frequency (e.g., more sampling in 2013) provided more representative data for VOC emissions calculations.

Learn more about air

* The base year for the planned improvements is 2007. The goals were established in 2009.
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Plans for beyond 2015

The process of setting goals is as important as the process undertaken to achieve them. It requires deep analysis of opportunity and risk. It also means evaluating a goal’s ability to drive the right strategic and operational behaviour. In 2013, we kicked off the process to develop sustainability goals for beyond 2015. These goals will address the full spectrum of our environmental performance as well as establish formal social goals – a first for us.

Developing these goals is a collaborative effort. We’re engaging in conversations with employees and stakeholders so we can ensure their views are represented in this work, and also so we draw upon their expertise and passion for building a better future.

To date, several cross-disciplinary teams have been formed to examine the goal setting within these areas:

  • current environmental
  • new environmental
  • social performance

Work to identify, define and test new goals continued throughout 2013 and is expected to extend into 2014. While several goals areas have been identified and are in development, we haven’t yet determined the exact number of goals we’ll have or the specific focus areas. All goals under consideration will be tested for strategic alignment in the coming months.