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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- 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
- Clarkson Airshed Study, through participation in the Clarkson Airshed Industrial Association
- Sarnia Lambton Environmental Association
- 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.