We know that to be a successful company in an increasingly complex world, investors, employees, Indigenous communities and partners, governments and stakeholders need to see we have a purpose that goes beyond the balance sheet. More than ever, they want tangible proof of our commitment to the three dimensions of energy development that have long been part of Suncor’s vision: continually improving our environmental performance, addressing social challenges, and generating economic value.
These integrated pillars of sustainability will continue to guide us as we embark on the next phase in our company’s evolution – what we’re calling Suncor 4.0.
Technology and digital solutions will be a big part of Suncor 4.0 but unleashing the full potential of our people is what will get us where we need to be. To secure our competitive advantage for the long term, we must foster a workplace culture where everyone is inspired to be and give their best.
A time of transformation
We are living in an era of transformation – as a company, as an industry and as a global community. We have choices to make about our shared energy future and the role we will all play in shaping it.
Suncor’s commitment to safety, reliability, operational excellence and capital discipline continues – as does our unwavering determination to be a leader in sustainability. Globally, we are all beginning to transform our energy system toward a low-carbon economy. We have an important role to play in that transition and believe innovation will be critical to our success.
As polarization increases on various issues, many will choose to take a step back. Suncor will continue to step forward to demonstrate leadership in an increasingly complex world. We are doing this by:
- investing in emerging and potentially transformative technologies, including new digital capabilities
- supporting collaborative solutions on major environmental and societal challenges, including climate change
- working with and learning from Indigenous partners and others to create opportunities for economic and social reconciliation
- further integrating sustainability into our decision-making as we aspire to be a competitive producer for the long term
As we move ahead, we are also asking ourselves how can we best live up to our purpose.
Energy challenges and opportunities
For me, answering that question begins with reflecting on the absolutely essential role energy plays in our lives. The availability of reliable and affordable energy is behind the many advances, medical and otherwise, that have made this possible. It’s remarkable to think that in the developed world, life expectancy has increased roughly 15% in Canada since I was born.
Energy is the lifeblood of our modern society. It heats and powers our homes, schools and hospitals. It enables us to be mobile. It offers meaningful jobs and careers. And it provides governments with revenues that help fund services and infrastructure for the benefit of all.
At the same time, energy production and consumption comes with costs and risks. We must all address the amount of energy we use and the emissions associated with that use. As a country and as global citizens we need to pursue all forms of energy to provide for an ever growing population while tackling the environmental challenges associated with its use. With Suncor’s focus on sustainability, we remain optimistic the Canadian oil and gas industry will remain part of the global energy mix.
Our optimism is based on a strong history of technology and innovation, continued focus on cost and carbon competitiveness, putting people first, and building relationships and opportunities with Indigenous Peoples.
Climate change is real and we have a shared obligation to reduce our carbon footprint. The more people are engaged, the greater likelihood of success.
The communities where we operate – many of them home to Indigenous Peoples in Canada – are most directly impacted by the energy industry’s activities. Yet for too long, they have not fully shared in the benefits and opportunities of resource development.
I firmly believe energy companies need to recognize they have a unique obligation, and opportunity, to make a difference. We can and should innovate not just on technologies to improve our environmental performance – which Suncor is doing and will continue to do at an accelerated level – but also to address complex social challenges.
Our long-term socially focused sustainability goal is about changing the way we think and act so we can work together with Indigenous Peoples to create opportunities for economic and social reconciliation.
Our partnership with the Fort McKay and Mikisew Cree First Nations on the East Tank Farm development is an example of this kind of innovation in action. The First Nations acquired a 49% equity position in the facility at a value of $500 million – the largest First Nations business investment to date in Canada. I was also closely involved in the talks with the First Nations Chiefs that led to this landmark agreement and saw firsthand the power of working more collaboratively with our Indigenous partners.
For Suncor, our social goal is a journey and about much more than commercial success. We will continue to expand our support for Indigenous youth, increase the participation of Indigenous Peoples in our workforce, and improve our employees’ awareness of the history and experience of Indigenous Peoples. Above all, we will continue to listen and learn.
Our other major sustainability goal is to further reduce the total greenhouse gas emissions intensity of the production of our oil and petroleum products by 30% by 2030. Our ambition is driving operational, energy and fuel efficiency improvements into our business. Technology and innovation are pointing to a realistic path for reaching that goal, which will also move us toward ultimately bending the curve on our absolute GHG emissions.
This past year, Suncor invested $635 million in technology development and deployment, including digital transformation. That also includes next-generation in situ technologies that could dramatically reduce GHG emissions from operations.
Fort Hills is another key example of Suncor’s commitment to improving environmental performance through technology and innovation. With paraffinic froth treatment (PFT) technology, the barrels will have a GHG emissions intensity on par with the average refined barrel in North America.
This is a significant step forward for our industry. We are finding ways to alter the carbon content in a barrel of crude and, in some cases, leave a portion of that carbon in the ground before it becomes a problematic gas. No other oil-producing jurisdiction is doing this – and, as we make further advances, this will help bolster the case for Canada to be the progressive supplier of choice to the global community.
Suncor’s plan is to remain resilient and thrive in tomorrow’s low-carbon economy. Our annual Climate Risk and Resilience Report sets out why we believe this is a realistic goal. In 2018, we took another step forward on climate risk transparency by supporting reporting recommendations by the Task Force on Climate-Related Disclosures (TCFD), an international initiative of the Financial Stability Board.
Collaborating on innovation
As we innovate, collaboration remains critical. Again, we take an integrated approach.
Suncor works closely with organizations like Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA), Evok Innovations and the Clean Resource Innovation Network (CRIN) on technology solutions that improve environmental performance and reduce costs. The Energy Futures Lab, which Suncor co-founded, is an example of social innovation that brings together diverse partners to advance a fit-for-the-future energy system. And our work with groups like the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition and Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission is based on a shared understanding of how the economy and the environment are so closely entwined.
We also work with several other companies as members of the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) Local Network in Canada. This reflects Suncor’s broad support for the UNGC and its 10 principles, which guide our approach to human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption for all our operations.
Collaboration continues to open us up to new perspectives and possibilities. It helps reinforce and refine our common purpose.
This brings us full circle – to the conversations we are having at Suncor about what we do, and why, and the actions we are taking to best harness new capabilities that are transforming our world.
What’s being called “the fourth industrial evolution” will have a major impact on every industry and economy. Advances in digital technologies such as improved data analytics, artificial intelligence and automation have the potential to make our operations and workplaces smarter and more connected, opening up new ways to enhance our economic, social and environmental performance.
Suncor 4.0 is a chapter in our evolution, and includes accelerating this process to fully leverage technology to improve performance. But it’s also about transforming our leadership and culture to develop the workplace of the future – one that is collaborative, connected and understands that we expect our work to have meaning and purpose.
As we continue to innovate, lead and stay true to our purpose, one value will always stand above the rest: Safety first. Suncor is committed to providing a safe workplace. For us, this is about ensuring everyone goes home to their loved ones safely at the end of their day.
In a time of transition and change, success is with those who are agile and can adapt. But as much as things are changing in our energy world, one thing remains constant: sustainability is at the core of all we do. It’s our best guide as we make this journey together.
President and chief executive officer