Report on Sustainability 2019

Air quality

Suncor works to reduce air emissions from our operations. Our focus for air quality management is centered on air emissions (pollutants and greenhouse gases) and odours, and we are committed to maintaining and improving air quality near all of our operations.
A Suncor air quality tester uses her equipment

Our Annual Air Pollutant and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reporting Standard provides a structured mandatory process for continual improvement of emissions reporting processes.

In 2018, total Suncor-wide absolute air emissions (nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide and volatile organic compounds) increased by approximately 13% compared to 2017. This increase is primarily attributed to the commissioning and ramp-up of the Fort Hills project.

Air emissions chart
Air emissions intensity chart

* Air emissions include SO2, NOx, and VOC emissions. For additional notes regarding this chart and its data, please refer to performance data notes (#7 – notes on other air emissions).

** The increase in Terra Nova's VOC emissions and emissions intensity was due to the hydrocarbon blanket gas and recovery system being offline for a large part of 2017 and 2018 when compared to ~100% operational in 2016.

Sulphur dioxide

Over the last five years, there is an overall downward trend in sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions intensity. This trend is due to reliable operations, fewer plant upsets and increased use of alternative fuels in place of petroleum coke. Preventative maintenance on SO2 scrubbers caused the annual fluctuations in intensity trends.

The approximately 10% decrease in SO2 emission intensity in 2018 is due to increased production from upstream facilities, including Fort Hills.

SO2 emissions intensity chart
* For additional notes regarding this chart and its data, please refer to performance data notes (#7 – notes on other air emissions).

Nitrogen oxides

The overall trend in nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions intensity over last five years, is relatively stable.

The increase in NOx emissions intensity in 2018 is primarily due to the ramp-up of Fort Hills, and increased production at our in situ sites, Firebag and MacKay River.

NOx emissions intensity chart
For additional notes regarding this chart and its data, please refer to performance data notes (#7 – notes on other air emissions).

Volatile organic compounds

Volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions intensity is stable for our in situ, and refining and supply businesses. There is an increasing VOC trend for oil sands due to changing methodology of measuring emissions across our oil sands mining operations. The main contributor to the increase in VOC emission intensity is due to Fort Hills coming online.

The considerable fluctuation within our Terra Nova operations is due to a hydrocarbon blanket gas and recovery system being offline due to an unplanned outage and maintenance.

VOC emissions intensity chart

* For additional notes regarding this chart and its data, please refer to performance data notes (#7 – notes on other air emissions).

** Oil Sands Base estimation accuracy is greater than +/- 10% and limited by currently-accepted methodology and measurement instruments.

*** The increase in Terra Nova's VOC emissions and emissions intensity was due to the hydrocarbon blanket gas and recovery system being offline for a large part of 2017 and 2018 when compared to ~100% operational in 2016. It is noted that there was an error in total VOCs reported for Terra Nova in the 2018 report. The miscalculation that occurred in the storage and handling of emissions is now corrected and reported in this 2019 report.

Air quality monitoring

Suncor is a member of the Wood Buffalo Environmental Association (WBEA). The WBEA operates environmental monitoring programs to monitor ambient air, land and human exposure in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB) in northeast Alberta – providing ambient air quality data and a real-time air quality index (updated hourly) which is available to the public.

We also support air monitoring via the following airsheds/organizations that monitor and report air quality – ensuring timely availability of results to the public and regulatory agencies:

Alberta

  • Parkland Airshed Management Zone
  • Alberta Capital Airshed, through involvement in the Strathcona Industrial Association
  • Alberta Clean Air Strategic Alliance
  • Environmental Monitoring and Science Division (EMSD) of Alberta Environment and Parks

Ontario

  • Clarkson Airshed Study, through participation in the Clarkson Airshed Industrial Association
  • Sarnia Lambton Environmental Association

Montreal

  • We work with the Service de l’environnement de la ville de Montréal by providing ambient air quality monitoring data

Odour monitoring in the RMWB

Suncor consistently engages with community stakeholders, government and other external agencies on odours, to discuss best practices and odour management strategies – and regularly organizes meetings between industry and community members to discuss their concerns. We’re also engaged in researching and testing new methods and technologies to monitor fugitive emissions.

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