When Liebherr’s new T 282 truck 17-139 first started rumbling down the haul roads in the Syncrude’s North Mine on March 24, 2005, 50 Cent topped the charts while moviegoers in Fort McMurray were flocking downtown to see the animated hit Robots at the Landmark Cinema.

Sixteen years later, the movie theatre is shuttered and 50 Cent is making television shows rather than music but truck 17-139 continues to roll on, reaching the milestone of 100,000 operating hours on March 28.

Syncrude Site Reliability Engineer Paul Wohlgemuth sees achieving that milestone as a success story with several authors.

“The oil sands are the toughest proving ground in the world. The operating conditions challenged this truck, just as they do with any equipment,” says Paul, who joined Syncrude in 1989. “Syncrude purchased the Liebherr truck based on its strong performance in hard-rock mines. The softer underfoot conditions in the oil sands initially posed difficulties.

Thanks to hard work and collaboration between many people in different business units and the manufacturer, we found solutions that led to this accomplishment.

– Paul Wohlgemuth

The work we’ve undertaken means today’s Liebherr haul truck is not the same truck we purchased in 2005.”

An 11-point upgrade program identified and addressed issues to improve the reliability and longevity of the 26 trucks, which are unique in the oil sands. The truck has linkage systems on the front suspensions and hoist undercarriage. It also has an electric drive train. The 11-point program targeted the truck’s structural issues.

“Liebherr has an advanced engineering arm and they are great to work with. They were very open about sharing technical information with us, which was crucial in helping us understand and address the challenges with the suspension and structures,” he says.

Syncrude also identified issues caused by the diesel fuel produced by Plant 14 and the high-pressure fuel system that created challenges with the injectors. “We needed to address the diesel fuel mix so it wouldn’t coke in the high-pressure fuel system and damage the injectors. We changed the specifications on the diesel fuel mix and added a stabilizer to prevent coke particles from damaging the fuel injectors,” Paul says. “Detroit Diesel, who produces the engines for the Liebherr trucks, was very helpful in working with us on that issue.”

During 17-139’s lengthy run, more than just pop music and movies changed. Syncrude’s commitments to managing tailings led to $3 billion in investment into developing new technologies, including the new centrifuge plant at Mildred Lake. With the increased volume of treated tailings by the plant, Syncrude repurposed 17-139 and six other Liebherr trucks to carry tailings treated by the centrifuge plant – material called cake – to placement areas in the Mildred Lake.

“Carrying tailings cake required a different box and tailgate for the truck than hauling oil sands ore,” says Sherill Stevens, Business Team Leader – Trucks & Productivity for the past four years at Mildred Lake Mining. “The Mildred Lake Mobile Maintenance shop led by Keith Singer helped fabricate new boxes and tailgates for the repurposed trucks as well as keeping them on the road.”

Sherill also praised the operators for playing a crucial role in setting a reliability milestone.

Our operators are highly skilled and responsible in how they handle the equipment entrusted to them.

– Sherill stevens

They have done a great job managing the nuances of the cake fleet and cake run in particular,” says Sherill, who was recently appointed Value Stream Leader for Mining, Extraction and Tailings.

Craig Coolen, Manager – Mine Mobile Maintenance, also praised the nearly 140 employees and contractors who maintain the fleet at Mildred Lake shop.

“Our maintenance technicians have demonstrated world-class performance in ensuring we meet our goals of being reliable, responsible, safe and profitable,” Craig says. “In our shop, that means keeping our fleet available to move the ore and overburden necessary to meet our production goals and the tailings cake to meet our commitments of being a responsible operator. Reaching this kind of milestone demonstrates how well they do their work shift after shift with the support of their peers in Operations and our Technical organization.”

And given 17-139 had an expected life of 72,000 operating hours, Paul sees another lesson imparted by the truck.

This truck has operated for far longer than anybody ever anticipated when we purchased it.

– Craig Coolen

“It challenges people’s thinking about equipment. It doesn’t have to get old and die within its expected shelf life. It demonstrates what you can do with a good maintenance program and collaboration between our operating, maintenance and technical organizations.”

There are many pathways to success.

It can come from reconnecting ourselves with traditions through song and dance, from building outreach programs that connect students with communities, or from reflecting on the legacy of our parents and celebrating their impact on an entire community.

Inspiring stories like these can be found in Syncrude’s Pathways 2021 magazine. It captures the journeys, achievements, connections, contributions and efforts of First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples — and brings light to Indigenous culture, history and traditions.

Take, for example, Mitch Mercredi. Growing up in Fort Chipewyan, traditions like the powwow were not part of his life. As a teenager, Mitch attended a cultural rediscovery event that sparked his imagination and inspired him to learn more about his people’s traditional ways of life. As a young adult, Mitch’s fascination led him to join his first drum group. From there, he explored further aspects of his culture and soon found his calling in powwow.

Mitch is a father now and shares his traditions and way of life with his three children. All three dance in the powwow and he and his wife, Crystal, are raising their next generation to be proud and embrace the traditions and values of their culture.

“Providing a platform to share Indigenous perspectives and lived experiences is a vital part of Syncrude’s commitment to our Indigenous communities,” says Kara Flynn, VP, Government and Public Affairs

Indigenous people contribute in a major way to our company’s success. The relationships we have built have created more resilience in our business, in our region’s communities, and in our ongoing reclamation efforts.

– Kara flynn

Syncrude operates on the traditional lands of five First Nations and six Metis Locals, and it’s important to provide our neighbours with opportunities to take part in all aspects of the operation. Our connections with Indigenous communities have been fostered since Syncrude’s beginnings over 50 years ago. Being one of the nation’s largest employers of Indigenous people is an outcome of those relationships and is something Syncrude is proud to accomplish.
“One of the ways we continue this effort is to provide a platform to help tell their stories and experiences,” says Kara.

You can read Pathways magazine here.

Syncrude would not exist without thousands of skilled trade workers who’ve built the company into what it is today.

To continue attracting a young, diverse workforce, Syncrude supports organizations and programs that educate students about career opportunities in the trades.

One such organization is Skills Canada Alberta, which attracts 10,000 high school students to its annual Provincial Skills Competition and Try-A-Trade®, a tradeshow where students can try different trades-associated projects at booths hosted by businesses.

When COVID-19 caused the cancellation of the 2020 Skills Competition, Amy Matthews, Partnership Coordinator with Skills, knew there was a gap to be filled. “What we heard from teachers was students were missing the hands-on approach. On top of that, Zoom fatigue was setting in, so we knew we didn’t want to do something online,” says Amy.

Skills Heavy Hauler: Syncrude’s Try-a-Trade® Hydraulic Electric Heavy Hauler fully assembled

Try-A-Trade® Take-out was created for the 2020-21 school year, with the support of partners such as Syncrude. Teachers could order free project kits online, giving students the chance to test-drive careers and learn new skills. Each Try-A-Trade® Take-out kit includes the necessary materials to complete an activity, instructions and tutorial videos where needed.

Syncrude’s Hydraulic Electric Heavy Hauler Kit was a huge hit, with all 200 kits ordered within two hours from all across Alberta. From Lethbridge to Janvier, students have been working together, building heavy hauler trucks modelled after the ones rumbling down haul roads at Mildred Lake and Aurora.

Jessica Lynch, Instrument Technician, Hydrotreaters, attended Try-A-Trade® before starting her career with Syncrude.

I attended the event when I was in high school. It inspired me to learn more about trades and ultimately pursue my career

– Jessica Lynch

Six years later, when Jessica was asked to develop Syncrude’s Try-A-Trade® Takeout kit, she jumped at the opportunity. “Myself and colleagues Dwight Flett, Team Leader – Maintenance, ML Trucks and Benoit Daigneault, Heavy Duty Mechanic, ML Trucks, were asked to come up with a hands-on project students could build together, while learning about trades.”

After taking the time to seek knowledge and understanding of the request, Jessica, Dwight and Benoit collaborated to create the heavy hauler truck prototype. “It represents Syncrude as a whole. It provides students with the ability learn about electrical circuitry and hydraulics while working together to build the truck,” Dwight says. Instructions, complete with a how-to video, were also provided by Syncrude’s employees

Based on the feedback received, the program proved to be a success. “Teachers are raving. One even told me that their students didn’t want to break for recess, they were enjoying the project so much. We’re thrilled to have had the support from partners such as Syncrude to make this program possible,” says Amy.

Growing up in Fort McMurray, Rochelle Young never celebrated her Indigenous roots, largely because her family didn’t talk about their heritage.

“I always knew I was Indigenous but there was no cultural practices in our home when I was growing up,” she says. “We just didn’t really talk about it very much.”

Rochelle’s role at Syncrude working with First Nations and Métis communities as an environment advisor triggered a curiosity to learn more about her roots. And that search caused her to learn some of her qualities were shared by her forefathers.

“When I started working at Syncrude, it was my role at work that caused me to learn about my history. I was working as an environmental advisor and talking with community members in Fort McKay about their odour concerns.” says Rochelle.

She began tracing her family history and learned about her great-great-great grandfather, an Iroquois man from Quebec named Louis Kwarkwante and how he arrived in Alberta.

“He ended up travelling across the west as a voyageur, helping fur traders get to Alberta,” Rochelle says. “He ended up marrying a Cree woman. The interesting thing is the Iroquois were known for their skill in agriculture according to the reports of the Indian agents I’ve read. Farming was natural for him.”

Syncrude proved to be a similarly good fit for Rochelle, who grew up in Fort McMurray with both of her parents working for the oil sands developer.

“My father Ron MacDonald worked as a process operator in Extraction. And most people will remember my mom Carol MacDonald as the office manager at Club 63 North, the social club for employees. So I am a ‘Syncrude kid’ from both parents,” she says. “I always had an interest in the environment from an early age. My dad and I would always be outside looking to catch bugs.”

After graduating from Father Mercredi High School, Rochelle attended Lakeland College, where she received a diploma in conservation and reclamation studies and later earned an applied degree in environmental management.

“I worked as a summer student at Syncrude while going to school and loved it. My final year of school was an eight-month practicum in Environmental Services, where I worked on everything from wildlife management to waste management to water management. I was hired as a full-time employee from there.”

At the start of her career, Rochelle’s main focus was reporting on air quality concerns as Syncrude brought units built during the UE-1 expansion. “It was a challenging job as we were experiencing some problems and my job was having to explain why things went wrong,” she says. “I realized I wanted to make things better, not just report what was wrong.”

That epiphany led her to move to land reclamation, working on regulatory plans.

I want to feel like I’m making a difference. That’s core to who I am as a person. That’s why Choose to Challenge – this year’s theme for International Women’s Day – really speaks to me and my values.

– Rochelle Young

Rochelle has discovered she came by that attitude honestly. Her great-great-grandfather Michel Callihoo was the first Chief of the Michel First Nation, a band northwest of Edmonton which signed Treaty 6 in 1878. Its 100-square-kilometre reserve was located on some of the richest agricultural land in the province and members came under heavy pressure to surrender it by the government. The band was “enfranchised” in 1958, which stripped members of their Indian status in exchange to vote in Canadian elections. It was only First Nation to be enfranchised under the Indian Act.

“A lot of members fought in the Second World War, wanted the same rights and privileges as their counterparts whom they fought beside so they gave up their Treaty rights in order to have the same rights,” Rochelle says.

My great-grand-uncle Felix Callihoo was one founders of the Métis Nation of Alberta.

– Rochelle Young

“Another one of my great-grand-uncles, John Callihoo, founded the Indian Association of Alberta. Many of my ancestors fought for change and equal rights for Indigenous people. It’s a piece of my history where I feel a close connection.”

And now she is sharing that link with her three sons.

Syncrude’s Rochelle Young has made it a point to share stories about her Indigenous roots and celebrate the culture with her sons Jesse (left), Dylan (centre) and Cameron (right)

“It’s very important to me that they understand the history and culture as Indigenous people,” she says. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, I had some free time and attended a course put on by the University of Alberta about Indigenous history in Canada. I want to have those conversations with my children that I didn’t have with my parents while I was growing up. But it’s also important to note that today, the schools have events such as Orange Shirt Day to discuss the legacy of residential schools, which are great. And for my sons, it’s important for them to know because their grandmother and great-grandmother went to residential schools.”

For Rochelle, history is not just something to be remembered.

“I know a lot more about myself because of what I’ve learned in studying my family’s history,” she says.

She also brings that view to her current role at Syncrude as Regulatory Affairs Advisor working on several tailings projects, including Base Mine Lake, a former mine pit and tailings pond being reclaimed as a pit lake that sequesters tailings underneath the water layer.

“My new role has allowed me to reconnect with the First Nations and Métis communities in the region, which is something I really appreciate. It’s vital we engage with local communities on reclamation and land closure because there is a shared vision to have the land reclaimed in the best possible way,” she says. “When the land is returned, the communities can resume traditional uses. That’s something I understand and that’s a challenge I embrace.”

It all started for Syncrude employee Jessica Leska as a way to keep fit during the winter months in Fort McMurray.

Now, her passion for running will attempt to gain attention to the beauty of the area.

Jessica, who works as a Controls Coordinator with Regional and Corporate Logistics, is heading toward Stony Mountain Wildland Provincial Park, running through 200 kilometres of frozen boreal forest. Her adventure will showcase the beauty of the Wood Buffalo region.

“I hope my four-day run will encourage others to explore more of our community. This adventure is important for me because I want people to see what Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo has to offer in terms of outdoor adventure. Not just locals, but anybody who may say ‘I don’t want to work in Fort McMurray because it’s isolated and there’s nothing to do.’

I want to be able to show what people can experience and what kinds of adventures await just outside their door!

– Jessica Leska

She originally planned to run to Fort Chipewyan, but due to some logistical reasons, she’s executing her Plan B.

She has to self-support the run. This means she has to run with a sled carrying her gear including change of clothes, camping equipment, food, among others, attached behind her. She has to camp and sleep outdoors during her night stops. She has to melt snow for water. To ensure she’s prepared for the adventure, Jessica has been training by pulling a tire behind her and camping during winter.

The Fort McMurray resident got into running in the winter of 2015. She did her first five-kilometre run on New Year’s Eve that year and her first 10-kilometre run the following spring.

“It escalated very quickly,” she muses.

In 2016, she got into trail running and that same year she did her first half-marathon in Edmonton and an ultra-marathon in Kimberley, B.C. She was originally planning to run to Fort Smith but due to COVID-19, the Northwest Territories asked Parks Canada not to build the winter access road. But Jessica plans to do the full run next year when restrictions have been lifted and access restored.

It’s about the challenge and the adventure. But if you can promote your local community to a wider audience that’s a bonus.

– Jessica Leska

As a Syncrude employee safety is always top of the mind as she goes about her daily life. Running in the wilderness during winter requires extra attention to detailed safety plans. As that’s what exactly Jessica has been busy perfecting aside from practicing to run.

Those who want to cheer her on and follow her adventure can do so by visiting her Facebook page or Instagram account She Runs North.

Peter Dunfield has spent a long and distinguished career poking around rice paddies, peatlands, volcanoes and tailings ponds searching for nature’s tiniest grazers, single-celled micro-organisms that chew up methane.

That quest led the University of Calgary microbiologist to Syncrude’s west in-pit tailings pond in 2012, where he and his team isolated, identified and described two new micro-organisms – Methylicorpusculum oleiharenae and Oleiharenicola alkalitolerans.

“You have to use Latin when describing new species. The first means small-bodied methyl-eater while the second one is alkali-tolerating oil sands dweller,” says Peter. “Identifying these new species is fun, although our main job is to monitor the microbial communities in Base Mine Lake using DNA signatures, and compare them to an active tailings pond and a natural lake. Isolating and describing new microbial species is a sideline and takes a lot of tedious lab work. But when we find something interesting, we do it.”

Dr. Dunfield examining water samples from Base Mine Lake.
Photo Credit: Nadya Dunfield.

In the case of Methylicorpusculum oleiharenae – the small-bodied methane eater – what interests Dunfield is the micro-organism that was abundant in the west in-pit tailings pond in 2012 is now almost nonexistent in Base Mine Lake eight years later.

“That one has now almost disappeared from Base Mine Lake, which is an indication the lake is no longer a tailings pond.”

People should not be concerned that new species are evolving in tailings ponds, because microbial species generally do not evolve over short periods of time.

– Peter Dunfield

With these kind of species, we are talking about tens or hundreds of millions of years of evolution. What we isolated have already existed somewhere. My suspicion is they existed in oil sands seeps or other petroleum deposits but they found a really nice home in the tailings ponds. But they have already existed in nature.” he says. “There are still methane-eating bacteria in Base Mine Lake but different ones have colonized the lake because the conditions have changed and that’s a sign of progress. There have been dramatic changes in the microbes in the lake over the past six years – it really doesn’t resemble a tailings pond any more. It’s somewhere in between a tailings pond and a natural lake now.”

PhD student Chantel Biegler extracts microbial DNA from Base Mine Lake water samples. The DNA will be sequenced to determine what microbes are present in the lake.

Photo Credit: Nadya Dunfield.

Peter and a team of 10 present and former graduate and post-doctoral students have monitored Base Mine Lake since 2014 as part of a group of outside experts from different universities and research institutions working on different areas.

“We’ve enjoyed working on this project – Syncrude has been really good to work with as a partner. It’s a lot of fun – they have a diverse group assembled to look at this lake – we have limnologists, micro-climatologists, geochemists, biologists among other disciplines,” he says. “We’ve learned a lot from each other.”

Base Mine Lake has also provided lessons of its own.

“We’re quite surprised. We thought it might take decades for things to change. We certainly are seeing changes already.

– Peter Dunfield

“There have been dramatic changes, not only in the species of methane oxidising bacteria, but also in other key players such as phototrophic algae. The overall microbial biodiversity appears to be increasing. The lake is trending in a positive direction.”

Learn more about research at Syncrude.

Noah Brown, Process Operator – Conversion, had a full week off before Christmas. He decided to take a trip down to Edmonton to spend it with his girlfriend, as they both live alone.

Noah’s girlfriend works in the Emergency Room at the Royal Alexandra Hospital. She wears her personal protective equipment each shift, because she comes into contact with positive Covid-19 patients.

“I had only been in Edmonton for two days when my girlfriend was instructed to get tested for Covid-19 because someone she had been in close contact with had tested positive,” says Noah. “She was showing symptoms, but I did not have any symptoms.

I really wanted to return to work, especially since I was scheduled to clock overtime for working the Christmas statutory holidays.

-Noah Brown

Instead, Noah self-isolated for 14 days, following both Syncrude and the government’s guidance, and went for a Covid-19 test. “I quarantined immediately, although my girlfriend hadn’t yet received her test results (which were positive). I was alone over the holidays from December 24 to January 6,” says Noah. “It was depressing and mentally draining to miss out on time with my family and work.” Noah’s test results also came back positive, highlighting the importance of following government and Alberta Health Services guidelines.

By doing the right thing, Noah prevented the spread of the virus at work among his co-workers and to his family members. He has since recovered from the virus and has returned to work.

Learn more about our COVID-19 protocols.

Make Syncrude your #1 choice.


  • Pre-Turnaround Work: late March 2021
  • Mechanical Work Start: April 1, 2021
  • Strong Focus on COVID-19 Protocols

We’ll complete our 2021 Project Gryphon scope safely and effectively with the support of the Building Trades unions and professional skilled tradespeople like you. For more than 50 years, Syncrude has been one of Canada’s most trusted, stable and reliable companies, and North America’s most respected oil sands operator.

Project Gryphon is a Turnaround Event on Syncrude’s 8-3 Coker and associated process units.

More than 2,000 craft personnel are required to execute the project.

Pre-Turnaround work will commence in late March 2021 for select trades; mechanical work will follow with a start date of April 1, 2021. Craft personnel will be working 10-hour shifts, while those supporting the Critical Path will be on 12-hour shifts; unless otherwise required.

Already part of the Gryphon Turnaround? Click here for all you need to know.

Accommodation will be provided and operated by Civeo Lodges, which are all located close to Syncrude’s Mildred Lake site. Guests will have private rooms and bus transportation will be provided between the Lodges and the Syncrude worksite.

Travel assistance protocol will be available to secure specific craft.

For your protection, COVID-19 safeguards and practices are in place at Syncrude worksites and the camp Lodges that Syncrude has secured for our Project Gryphon workforce. All workers are expected to adhere to these while working on our sites; they are in place for your safety as well as the health and well-being of other Syncrude workers and neighbouring communities. These measures include:

  • Daily AHS self-assessment requirement, prior to arriving to the worksite
  • Physical Distancing protocol
  • Wearing of Masks and/or use of other personal barriers
  • Additional COVID-19 guidelines and established self- isolation protocols.

Your #1 Choice for Safety

As we prepare to welcome teams to execute Syncrude’s 2021 Project Gryphon Event, focus and commitment from all workers will be required in order to carry out the plan safely. Safety has always been at the forefront of the way we work. Therefore, in order to create an environment where Nobody Gets Hurt it is important for us to all work together to adhere to the workplace health and safety processes across the Syncrude site and commit to following all procedures and guidelines. Our number one priority is always the health and safety of workers.

We are also dealing with the risk of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on how we onboard workers to site. We remain committed to protecting our people, contractors and staff, and providing them with access to the necessary site information needed to do their job safely.

Syncrude has developed protocols to keep everyone safe against COVID-19. It is important for everyone to understand that these measures are for your safety and the safety of your co-workers. Our first and foremost priority is ensuring the safety of our people, including those who work for our contractor companies. In an effort to help stop the spread, Syncrude requires all workers to keep informed about our ongoing response to COVID-19 as we work together to protect all of our workers and their families.

“Throughout the pandemic, Syncrude’s dedication to safeguarding the health and well-being of its employees has been a shining example of how to protect workers in the oil sands. I’m pleased to say Syncrude is a leader in COVID-19 safety and I applaud them for working with stakeholders like BTA to put best practices in place – and adjust them as needed – to ensure worker safety remains paramount. Syncrude is a valued ally in the battle against workplace COVID-19.”
– Terry Parker, Executive Director, Building Trades of Alberta

“I have hundreds of members working in oil sands camps, and I can say with conviction, Syncrude continues to be a leader in COVID-19 safety for both camp workers and guests. Syncrude’s commitment to working with their partners, like UNITE HERE! Local 47, to put pandemic plans and protocols in place is a testament to their dedication to protecting its workforce during a very difficult time in our industry.”
Ian Robb, Canadian Director, UNITE HERE!
President/Administrator UNITE HERE! Local 47

“Syncrude, in collaboration with Diversified Transportation, has implemented comprehensive measures and actions to ensure the safety of our bus passengers. Sanitization after every shift, enhanced cleaning of units, seat barriers to further limit exposure and the addition of the electronic manifest are all layers of protection added for Syncrude workers.”
Sammy Mujahid
Syncrude Account Manager, Diversified Transportation

“Being born and raised in Fort McMurray, and seeing Syncrude’s community-minded response to COVID 19, has made my family and myself very proud to be part of the Syncrude Solution to maintaining a safe community and a safer workplace. Syncrude’s approach to the pandemic is evidence- and risk-based, and it continuously communicates changes to its contractor family without compromising our safety priorities.”
Abbas Abbas
Health, Safety & Sustainability Manager – Syncrude Site, Worley

“The measures put in place by Syncrude have given us the ability to execute work without the risk of a large-scale outbreak. When there have been positive cases, these measures have minimized the scale of close contacts to very few. Our workforce is happy with the set-up of trailers and change facilities. They are impressed with Syncrude’s work to protect them. The Health Centre and COVID-19 Response Team have been very helpful answering questions and providing guidance when a worker does demonstrate symptoms. Additionally, the communications and information shared with us has been helpful to educate and guide our workforce through these uncertain times.”
Navin Ramlogan
Project Manager, CIMS

“With COVID-19 affecting everyone’s day-to day-environment, Syncrude has again proven to be a safety leader. The company has taken aggressive measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure and ensure strict adherence to Alberta Health Services (AHS)-mandated guidance. They have implemented, sustained and evolved many measures to keep people safe. These include protocols for travel, camp accommodations, and on-site facilities, and it’s great to see contractor companies involved in this process. We thank Syncrude and its Covid-19 Response Team for these efforts.”
Steve Jardine, Vice President

Travel and Accommodations

Syncrude’s Lodge provider, Civeo, has been working in close consultation with medical professionals, government health authorities, third-party experts, and their customers to proactively implement the COVID-19 safety measures found here: Civeo COVID-19 Statement

Civeo is operator of Athabasca and Beaver River Lodges, which will be the lodging and food hosts for Project Gryphon participants for the duration of your contract. Bus transportation between the Lodges and the Syncrude worksite is also complimentary and we will be providing uninterrupted transportation services from the Lodges to four designated work locations at Syncrude Mildred Lake Site. These buses will service Conversion, Utilities and Offsites as well as the Hydroprocessing areas via the following bus stops; 212 Ave., Bldg. 1055, Bldg. 51, Bldg. 1294 and MLV turnstiles. Syncrude issued electronic swipe cards will be required to board all busing services and ID cards will be swiped prior to disembarking the bus for Site Access. Busing schedules will be posted and available at the lodges and on the lodge provider websites for your convenience; please note these schedules are subject to frequent changes.

  • All rooms are equipped with TVs, Desks, lockable storage & dresser and telephones for internal use and local calls.
  • Laundry Facilities

Travel to Fort McMurray and back to your home destination is your responsibility.

The Syncrude Mildred Lake site is about 50 km north of Fort McMurray International Airport (YMM).

The site is also immediately adjacent to Highway 63, which is now twinned.

Syncrude Site Access Requirements

One of the following must be presented:

  • Common Safety Orientation (CSO)
  • Basic Safety Orientation (BSO)
  • CSTS and OSSA Regional
  • Been on the Syncrude sites within the past year

Syncrude Identification REquirements

In order to be able to receive a Syncrude ID Badge and site access individuals must be able to present authorized Government Issued Photo ID accepted by Syncrude:

  • Driver’s License
  • Passport
  • Permanent Residency Card
  • Canadian Citizenship Card
  • Status Card (Federally Issued)
  • Provincial ID Card (this is not a health card, similar to a driver’s license see below)

Note – Accepted Provincial ID Cards for Non-Drivers:

  • B.C. Identification Card
  • Alberta Identification Card
  • Saskatchewan Identification Card
  • Manitoba Identification Card and Manitoba Enhanced Identification Card
  • Ontario Photo Card
  • New Brunswick Photo Identification Card
  • Nova Scotia Identification Card
  • Newfoundland and Labrador Photo Identification Card
  • Prince Edward Island Voluntary Identification
  • Yukon General Identification Card
  • Northwest Territories General Identification Card
  • Nunavut General Identification Card
  • ***Quebec does not issue a photo card for non-drivers***

Any of the above must be the original document, must be valid (e.g. not expired) and must include a photo. (e.g. A Temporary Driver’s License is not acceptable as there is no photo).


Rapid Site Access Program

Syncrude is a RSAP participating site.

Pay and Benefits

Syncrude upholds all Alberta Building Trades Collective Agreements, which offer highly competitive wages for Skilled Trades in Canada. GPMC/NMC 2021 LOUs will apply to both 10- and 12-hour shifts.

Syncrude Location Services (RFID Badges)

  • All Gryphon workforce is required to have an RFID badge as part of their mandatory PPE. In order to be issued an RFID badge, individuals must review the Syncrude Location Services Orientation Video in advance through their companies, present a valid Syncrude ID badge and sign an electronic Consent Form at the camp badging stations.
  • RFID badge must be worn at all times while onsite and be taken back to camp at the end of shift.

What your colleagues say ABOUT WORKING AT sYNCRUDE

“I’ve been coming to Syncrude since 1983 keep coming back because it is a leader in the industry, has a good work environment and good people working there. Syncrude also has the best scaffolding.”Grant, Journeyman Boilermaker

“Syncrude’s safety standards are better than other sites I’ve worked on and their operating systems for shutdowns are very effective — I like that. Syncrude also has excellent relationships with the Building Trades unions and it values the quality craftsmanship that our members offer.”Mark, Journeyman Boilermaker

The people at Syncrude are welcoming, my job in the Turnaround Logistics group allows me to interact with many different folks, and the safety intervention program is great.

– Holly, Labourer

“I like that I work with people and not for people — at Syncrude, you’re a team member. The atmosphere, the commitment to safety and the people make Syncrude a great place to work.”Anthony, Operating Engineer

”Syncrude is recognized as a leader in the way it treats tradespeople, by offering a safe jobsite with good working conditions and accommodations.” Warren Fraleigh, Executive Director, Building Trades of Alberta

“Syncrude has been the single best customer for the Building Trades unions since I first worked on the initial construction of the Syncrude plant in the 1970s.”Robert Blakely, Canadian Operating Officer, Canada’s Building Trades Unions

Contractor Companies

Let’s Get Building! Ask your union hall about opportunities to work on Syncrude’s 2021 Project Gryphon Event with the following Building Trades contractors.

If Chris Austin had his way, Syncrude’s production engineers and operators would start their shift by asking, “How can I save my weight in emissions today?”

And then they would access the tool Chris developed to show the most current data related to production versus energy use throughout the operation.

Using his logic, if the average person weighs 80 kilograms and they thought this way every day, it would take less than a month to reach Syncrude’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emission targets for the next 10 years. “Obviously it is not that easy,” says Chris. “But the more people find small things and recover them early, the more they add up.”

As examples, Chris says that one gallon per minute of condensate recovered is equivalent to 90 kilograms of CO2 emissions based on the heat. If you turn off 10 – 100 Watt light bulbs, that’s 88 kilograms per day of CO2.

The tool is designed to look at the big stuff, but everyone can contribute.

– Chris Austin

Chris, Senior Technical Specialist in Utilities, is talking about the GHG Emissions Tracking Tool he created and Syncrude has been applying since last April.

“The tool was initially developed to be in line with monthly corporate reporting on greenhouse gas emissions intensity,” says Chris. “But because it uses daily data inputs, we can use it to make decisions about energy use every day and influence a reduction in emissions in the moment.”

Syncrude’s plan to reduce GHG emissions is tied to annual Business Plan production targets and employee compensation.

“The goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through reliability improvements, energy reductions, and increased production,” says Sol Cifuentes, GHG Program Lead.

Production is a key word. When production rates are high in the Upgrader, it can produce up to 75 per cent of the total energy needed to produce heat for bitumen recovery. When production is low, the GHG Emissions Tracking Tool highlights specific opportunities to turn down energy demand to match production. Ultimately, we want to produce the most synthetic crude oil using the least amount of energy throughout the process of converting oil sand to oil.

At a glance, the tool shows teams what is happening with energy usage and areas that need a closer look. If an area is showing green or yellow, it’s okay. When it shows red, there is work to do. And the tool is evolving.

Syncrude’s cogeneration facilities produce low carbon power to operate the Upgrader and any excess is exported to the Alberta electric grid.

– Sol Cifuentes

“Chris will be adding a power component to the GHG Emissions Tracking Tool that will highlight yellow or red when there are opportunities to make power with a lower carbon footprint depending on what is happening at site that day.”

Chris explains that the tool is designed to be a compass to help people determine what direction to take when it comes to production and energy. For example, when production rates are down, not as much energy is needed. “Sometimes production isn’t even close to matching the energy being generated,” he says. “So when production rates are reduced, the turn down capability, including the speed of turn down is important to reduce emissions. There has been a huge improvement in our turn down capability.”

Syncrude’s ability to turn down energy when the demand is low has helped reduce overall emissions per barrel. This chart shows production and emissions intensity from 2019 compared to 2020 with the trend being – on average – lower emissions intensity overall

Sometimes little things create big results. Thanks to the GHG Emissions Tracking Tool, operators found opportunities to reduce the amount of heated water needed to match production in the third quarter versus the same time in 2019.

It’s changing the way people think about the energy we use. Information is made available daily, and Chris reviews it with Operations on a weekly basis. It all contributes to a better understanding of energy use on site and what can be done to manage it while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“Giving people absolute numbers helps them understand what they need to do to manage energy,” says Chris. “When they ask, ‘What can I do today? How can I reduce CO2 emissions by 1,000 tonnes today?’ we give them numbers they can work with every day.”

There is more collaboration between business units as they learn about the tool, and their conversations support different ways to use less energy during production to move the plant towards higher efficiency.

Rather than working in silos, they can work together to come up with what emissions can be reduced.

Tracking production volumes for energy reduction opportunities, combined with an ongoing focus on reliability, promotes Syncrude’s goal of being more carbon efficient while lowering expenses related to greenhouse gases.

Engagement matters, and the actions of many, even just a little bit, can outweigh the actions of a few.

– Chris Austin

Learn more about our Climate Change Strategy.

A need to solve monitoring mysteries for Base Mine Lake prompted one Syncrude researcher to turn to medical equipment and the results have been great.

Barry Bara, a senior technical specialist with the Mine Closure Research Team needed to measure the bitumen and gases on the surface of the lake. He also wanted to locate mats – deposits of bitumen formed after tailings were placed into the lake bottom – so they could be removed.

The lake is a former mine pit now reclaimed as an aquatic landscape feature that sequesters the tailings material underneath the water layer. Syncrude completed the placement of tailings into the pit at the end of 2012 and began adding fresh water.

Research dating back to the late 1970s showed the technology would turn the area into a lake capable of sustaining aquatic life, which will be incorporated into the reclaimed landscape. Syncrude had already demonstrated this through a series of test ponds. Base Mine Lake is the first time the technology is being used on a large scale in the oil sands.

Researchers have conducted extensive monitoring and testing to check the progress of the lake since 2012. One important but difficult measurement is the amount of bitumen and gas in the lake. But the team discovered you could find those elements in the ice that formed on the lake during the winter

Last winter, Barry and his team harvested 200 ice cores 60 to 70 centimetres thick from the lake.

These cores may contain gas and bitumen, which rise to the surface. During the winter, they are frozen into the ice. We want to get an idea of what is coming up in different areas of the lake.

– Barry Bara

“If you keep doing that year after year, you can identify the areas where to concentrate your remediation. Then you can demonstrate you’ve reduced the bitumen because you have the actual measurements.”

With the use of a computed tomography (CT) scanner – a medical imaging machine – Barry and his team were able to find out from the samples how much bitumen came to the surface.

In collaboration with Coanda Research and Development, Barry also pursued another piece of medical imaging equipment to locate bitumen mats at the bottom of the lake. Ultrasound machines use sound waves to see inside the human body. He saw an opportunity because ultrasound works the same as sonar-based fish finders used by recreational anglers. Syncrude bought a commercial sonar unit and Barry hopes it can identify bitumen mats.