Syncrude is one of the largest operations in Canada’s oil sands industry, with an over 55-year history of innovation. Based in Fort McMurray, Alberta, and with a large research and development facility in Edmonton, Syncrude is a joint venture operated by Suncor and is known for pioneering many of the processes used in the industry, including an expanding suite of technologies to improve environmental and future economic performance.
The origins of the Syncrude Project began in 1964 with the incorporation of Syncrude Canada Ltd. and then the establishment of the joint venture in 1965. Operations at Mildred Lake site began in 1978. Cumulative production now exceeds 3 billion barrels.
How we produce oil
Our production process incorporates oil sands surface mining, followed by water-based extraction of the raw oil known as bitumen from the sand, and then upgrading that bitumen into a high quality, light, sweet crude oil through fluid coking, hydroprocessing, hydrotreating and reblending.
Our final product, Syncrude Sweet Premium (SSP), is sent by pipeline to Edmonton area refineries and to pipeline terminals which ship it to refineries in Canada and the United States. Once the product leaves our plant site, transportation and marketing become the responsibilities of our Joint Venture participants.
While our business is about producing the energy Canadians need, how we do it is equally important. We believe in responsible development that encompasses research and innovation, Indigenous and stakeholder engagement, environmental stewardship, providing a respectful and rewarding workplace, and generating shared value across the country and in the communities where we work and live.
Generating shared economic value
We currently employ approximately 4,900 people directly while our operations provide jobs for many more thousands of people directly and indirectly across Canada. From 2016 to 2020 alone, we contributed over $26 billion to Canada’s economy through the payment of wages, royalties and taxes and procurement of goods and services.
Engaging Indigenous communities
Syncrude is a recognized leader in Indigenous relations. We’re one of the largest employers of Indigenous people in Canada, with an average 10% representation in our direct workforce. We are also a champion for identifying and creating business development opportunities, with cumulative procurement from Indigenous suppliers now totaling over $4.7 billion.
OVER $4.7 BILLION TOTAL PROCUREMENT FROM INDIGENOUS COMPANIES
Focus on innovation
Syncrude has invested over $1.5 billion on research and development to date and ranks amongst the top spenders on innovation in Canada. Over half of these expenditures are focused on environmental priorities such as our reclamation research programs and collaborative efforts through Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA).
Returning land back to nature
Syncrude is committed to returning mined land back to nature. To date, more than 5,600 hectares of land disturbed by Syncrude oil sands mining operations is permanently reclaimed or ready for re-vegetation, including 432 hectares in 2020. We have planted more than 11 million tree and shrub seedlings, including 1.1 million in 2020. In 2008, Syncrude was the first oil sands operator to receive certification from the Alberta government for a reclaimed area. Called Gateway Hill, the area was planted in the early 1980s and is now a healthy forest of deciduous and coniferous trees interspersed by several small wetlands.
Our project is located near Fort McMurray, about 440 kilometres northeast of Edmonton, Alberta, on the Athabasca Oil Sands Deposit. Our Mildred Lake facility is 40 kilometres north of Fort McMurray, with our Aurora project located an additional 35 kilometres north of Mildred Lake.
The Syncrude Project is a Joint Venture undertaking among Suncor Energy Inc., Imperial Oil Resources Limited; Sinopec Oil Sands Partnership; and CNOOC Oil Sands Canada. Suncor’s interest is held by Canadian Oil Sands Partnership #1 and Suncor Energy Ventures Partnership, both wholly owned affiliates of Suncor Energy Inc., as the project owners (the “Owners”). Suncor Energy (Syncrude) Operating Inc. is the project operator.