Sustainability at Suncor

GHG goal

We are aiming to reduce our GHG emissions intensity by continuing to drive operational efficiency improvements while accelerating the adoption of new technology.

Our GHG goal is intended to embed low-carbon thinking into the day-to-day activities and decisions of our employees and challenge us to harness technology and innovation necessary for transformational solutions. Our progress will be measured by reducing the total emissions intensity of the production of our oil and petroleum products by 30% by 2030, from a baseline year of 2014.

GHG goal: Reducing emissions intensity by 30% by 2030

Implementing & improving energy efficiency

Developing and deploying new technologies

Running operations on natural gas moving to low-carbon fuels

Investing in low-carbon power

At the end of 2019, we had achieved approximately 10% against this baseline, with sanctioned projects capable of attaining an additional 10 %, and we continue to pursue opportunities to advance low-carbon energy.*

We are targeting emissions reductions in four key areas:

Energy efficiency and continuous improvement

Energy efficiency and continuous improvement

We continue to drive energy efficiency at all our facilities.

  • We’re implementing new digital technologies capable of improving steam generation efficiency and production for in situ operations
  • Energy and GHG key performance indicators (KPIs) are being developed and shared at our upstream sites
  • Operational experience is leveraged in the design of new facilities to significantly lower energy intensity
  • Extraction technology at Fort Hills is being utilized to remove heavy hydrocarbon molecules at the source, and the facility design leverages high-efficiency cogeneration, recovery of warm process water, and closed-loop cooling for enhanced process heat capture
Developing and deploying new technologies

Developing and deploying new technologies

Our goal pushes us to go beyond today’s capabilities, and we are aggressively working on new technologies that lower the costs and carbon emissions of our processes and products.

  • We invested $830 million in technology development and deployment and digital technologies in 2019 as part of a robust strategy to optimize current assets and develop next-generation facilities
  • $224M reflects technology development spend, including COSIA, Syncrude R&D and direct strategic investments such as Evok, Emerald, ArcTern Ventures, Enerkem, LanzaTech
  • $250M towards technology deployment spend on permanent aquatic storage structure (PASS), our demonstration pit lake called Lake Miwasin, autonomous haul systems (AHS) and other smaller deployments
  • $356M on digital transformation
  • GHG emissions-related technology development was approximately 50% of the total annual investments, including solvents, upgrading technologies and biofuels
Investing in low-carbon power

Investing in low-carbon power

Our GHG goal is also driving us to seek and evaluate new business opportunities in our value chain and within the evolving energy system.

  • All our oil sands facilities use cogeneration, and we are a net exporter of power to Alberta’s electricity grid. Excess power from our cogeneration facilities and our wind energy significantly contribute to reducing the overall GHG intensity of Alberta’s electricity grid
  • We have sanctioned a project to replace the GHG-intensive coke-fired boilers with a natural gas-fired cogeneration facility at our Oil Sands Base Plant
  • In addition to our current partnerships in wind power, in 2019, we sanctioned phase one (200 MW) of the Forty Mile Wind Power Project in Alberta. We continue to evaluate renewable energy investments that deliver economic, environmental and social benefits
Moving to low-carbon fuels

Moving to low-carbon fuels

We continue to look for synergistic low-carbon opportunities in our operations and evaluate new business opportunities in sustainable fuels.

  • In addition to providing low-carbon power, our sanctioned boiler replacement project at Base Plant will replace coke combustion with lower carbon intensity natural gas
  • We continue investing in renewable fuels including our 2019 investment in Enerkem Inc. which manufactures biofuels and renewable chemical products from household garbage that would otherwise be landfilled
  • We are evaluating optimization work at our St. Clair ethanol plant to increase the quality of our products to develop lower-carbon-intensity ethanol
  • We also continue to invest in sustainable fuel technology companies such as LanzaTech and LanzaJet

While we’ve made progress since establishing our goal in 2016, we realize the scale of the challenge globally to pursue a low-carbon future.

Suncor’s GHG goal and methodology aims to improve decision-making and encourage business choices for reducing global energy system emissions, specifically to:

  • Drive real emissions reductions in the energy system both within and external to Suncor’s operations
  • Encourage new, lower intensity production as part of our evaluation of new projects

GHG performance

In 2019, our total absolute GHG emissions rose approximately 4% compared to 2018 primarily due to Fort Hills operating at full capacity. However, company-wide GHG emissions intensity remained relatively flat.

Suncor continues to significantly invest in technology development and deployment, and digital technologies to optimize current assets and develop next-generation facilities. We believe technology and innovation have the potential to move emissions reduction from incremental to step change improvements, particularly beyond 2030 when many of these technologies are expected to be commercially available.


million CAD

invested in technology development and deployment in 2019


million tonnes CO2e

total Suncor-wide absolute GHG emissions in 2019


GHG intensity reduction

since 2014

*We expect there to be impacts to our GHG intensity due to government mandated production curtailment and COVID-19 impact on demand.

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