Suncor works to reduce air emissions from our operations, through operational excellence, project design and innovation and technology. Our focus for air quality management is centered on air emissions (pollutants and greenhouse gases) and odours. We are committed to maintaining and improving air quality near all of our operations.
In 2017, total Suncor-wide air emissions increased by 9% compared to 2016, largely attributed to the overall increase in VOC and NOx emissions. VOCs increased as a result of a hydrocarbon blanket gas and recovery system outage at Terra Nova, and changing methods at our oil sands mining facility. While absolute NOx emissions increased, due to production increases at our upstream facilities, the overall intensity stabilized due the implementation of low NOx emissions reduction technology in our mine fleet.
The overall trend in sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions intensity over the last five years is downward, due to more reliable operations, fewer plant upsets and flaring, and increased use of alternative fuels in place of petroleum coke. Preventative maintenance on SO2 scrubbers caused annual fluctuations.
The overall trend in nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions intensity over last five years is downward, due to the installation of low NOx emissions reduction technologies (i.e. haul truck engine replacement) in the mine fleet. The only exception is the Terra Nova facility, due to production decrease.
Volatile organic compounds
Volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions intensity is stable within our in situ and refining and supply businesses. The oil sands trends have been increasing, due to changing methodology of measuring emissions across our oil sands operations. The considerable fluctuation within our Terra Nova operations, is due to a hydrocarbon blanket gas and recovery system being offline for preventative maintenance and unplanned outages.
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.