Get the latest update on Suncor’s environmental goals and progress – 2013 Report on Sustainability

Suncor’s progress on environmental goals – 2013 Report on Sustainability

Get the latest on Suncor’s ‘beyond-compliance’ environmental goals and progress – 2013 Report on Sustainability

Find out how Suncor’s performing on our environmental and sustainability goals in the 2013 Report on Sustainability

View the latest Report on Sustainability

Performance goals and progress

As part of Suncor's ongoing commitment to environmental stewardship, the company committed to a series of strategic, ‘beyond-compliance’ environmental performance goals.

The target year for these planned improvements is 2015, with a base year of 2007. The goals were established in 2009 and take into account improvements to existing operations as well as new technologies. Each goal relates to a significant aspect of Suncor's environmental performance.

Through a series of planning meetings with senior executives, these goals were identified as priority measures to address:

  • business and environmental risks
  • concerns expressed by stakeholders
  • a means to further our commitment to the sustainability of the environment

Preliminary work is underway to develop post-2015 goals for Suncor. During this process, our focus will be on creating sustainability goals for the organization rather than just environmental performance goals. This means that we will also examine social themes as potential goal areas. Developing sustainability goals is an intensive piece of work that requires the involvement of a number of individuals from across our organization. To date, several cross-disciplinary teams have been formed to examine the possibility of setting goals within:

  • current environmental areas
  • new environmental areas
  • social performance areas.

Work to identify, define and test new goals will continue throughout 2013 and 2014.

With respect to our current 2015 environmental performance targets, we continue to identify capital projects and operational initiatives that will help close gaps and drive the organization towards the successful achievement of these goals. Suncor baselines have been set to include all currently operated assets. Over time, baselines may be adjusted to reflect changes in Suncor's operated portfolio resulting from acquisitions and divestitures.

What follows is a brief description of Suncor's four environmental performance goals and what we expect is required to accomplish them. All of the proposed company environmental improvements are absolute, except for energy efficiency, which is intensity based.

Please note that the Suncor environmental performance data presented in this section may differ from that provided elsewhere in the 2013 Report on Sustainability. Historical environmental performance data for the environmental goals includes only operated assets as at Dec. 31, 2012 and does not include assets disposed before this date.

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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 freshwater consumption means:

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

A 12% reduction in total freshwater consumption was ambitious, but Suncor has implemented several initiatives and has more planned or underway that continue to steward to this goal.

As Suncor pursues its goal of reducing fresh water consumption, all of our upstream and downstream operations are realizing opportunities for more sustainable water use. We are paying particular attention to our oil sands mining operations, which represents Suncor's 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 through our northeast Alberta assets to improve our overall water efficiency.

Water goal: Reduce freshwater consumption by 12% by 2015

From 2011 to 2012, the fresh water consumption metric for Oil Sands, and Refining and Marketing was updated to include industrial runoff withdrawal as described in the Oil Sands, and R&M Performance Indicators section of this report. The water goal performance metrics (2007-2012) have not yet been updated to reflect this change. 2011 In Situ water data updated to keep consistency with the metric.

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 aim to significantly increase our yearly reclamation performance — a major undertaking. Suncor has developed more aggressive reclamation plans using new technologies such as our TROTM tailings management process, which will steward toward the goal. We also recognize the importance of wetland reclamation. In 2012, we harvested and propagated new plant species for fen reclamation, and initiated work to research swamp reclamation. Oil Sands also celebrated its largest tree plant ever with 695,000 seedlings planted.

Land goal: Increase reclamation of disturbed land area by 100% by 2015

Learn more about reclamation

Improve energy efficiency by 10% by 2015*

In 2009, we set an ambitious goal to achieve a 10% improvement in energy efficiency. Since this time, Suncor merged with Petro-Canada and the company’s growth strategy has focused on oil sands mining and in situ projects, which are intrinsically more energy intensive than conventional hydrocarbon ones. To reflect this reality, Suncor has developed a 2015 energy efficiency performance target and a complementary longer term energy intensity goal. The energy efficiency target refers to operating our installed assets as efficiently as possible, while the longer term energy intensity goal reflects the energy associated with resource development and process design. Energy intensity varies according to asset mix and degree of processing and upgrading of bitumen in our design.

The energy efficiency target will require, on average, a 10% reduction in each business unit’s energy intensity from our 2007 baseline. The 2015 target is 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 of Suncor’s major operated sites by the end of 2014. To date, EMS has been implemented at three refineries: Commerce City, Edmonton and Montreal, and at Oil Sands base plant (Extraction, Energy and Utilities, and Upgrading). EMS implementation at our lubricants plant is scheduled for 2013, and in situ facilities in 2013 and 2014.

Results to date with the EMS implementation have been very promising, with typical gains in energy intensity in the 2% to 3% range being achieved shortly after implementation, with the identification of no- and low-cost projects which when implemented should achieve another 5% to 7% improvement in energy intensity.

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 very challenging, given the merger and our growth aspirations. It requires long-term investment, development and deployment of new technologies in order to promote incremental changes in our overall energy intensity. This is a goal that will require an extended timeline. In 2013, the long-term energy goal will undergo a detailed review in the context of developing the next round of sustainability goals. Emerging climate change policies and stakeholder expectations emphasize the need for advancement in technology in order to make improvements in the longer term.

Energy goal: Improve energy efficiency by 10% by 2015

The energy intensity metrics for the Environmental Excellence Performance Goal are different from the Performance Indicators section of this report due to the production definitions used. The Environmental Excellence 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 Excellence Performance Goals.

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

A 10% absolute reduction in total nitrogen oxide (NOx), sulphur dioxide (SOx) 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 inevitably 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
  • upgrades and replacement of equipment
  • installation of air emissions control technologies

Plans are being developed in each of our business units which will help to steward toward this goal.

Air goal: Reduce air emissions by 10% by 2015

Historical data updates were made to 2011 Oil Sands and 2009 - 2011 R&M air emission numbers due to update in emission factors and inclusion of additional sources.

Learn more about air

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