Canadian producer Suncor offers climate assurances

The company said it's producing oil sands that's on par with U.S. oil when it comes to greenhouse gases.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Canadian producer Suncor offers climate assurances
Canadian producer Suncor offers environmental assurances on emissions from its Fort Hills facility in Alberta. Photo courtesy of Suncor

June 8 (UPI) -- Canadian oil production from a facility in Alberta has the same greenhouse gas intensity as U.S. oil, the head of producer Suncor said.

Suncor said it's completed its $13 billion (USD) overhaul of its Fort Hills facility north of Fort McMurray.


"The Fort Hills mega-project has surpassed expectations; it came online safely, ramped up well ahead of schedule and it's producing a high-quality, fungible bitumen that is expected to continue to receive a premium price to in situ bitumen," President and CEO Steve Williams said in a statement.

As of Thursday, the company said its production figures were strong, with second quarter rates averaging 636,000 barrels per day, up from early-year startup figures of around 194,000 bpd. The May average alone was approximately 800,000 bpd.

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The National Energy Board, the Canadian regulator, reported total production last year averaged 4.2 million barrels of oil and oil equivalent per day, an 8 percent improvement from the previous year.

Apart from its viscosity, oil sands production has a tendency to be more carbon-intensive than other types of oil.

Suncor announced in late January that it started producing the first batches of oil from its Fort Hills project in Alberta. Williams said the turnaround at the facility included environmental objectives

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"Fort Hills' bitumen has the same greenhouse gas emissions intensity per barrel as the average crude refined in the United States," he said. "Our investors and stakeholders can be proud of advances being made in decreasing the carbon intensity of our production."

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, a trade group, said earlier this week, however, that climate policies were discouraging investments in the Canadian oil and gas industry. Companies that may be interested in spending are moving to other countries with looser environmental regulations.

More than $54 million is provided by the provincial government of Alberta through the provincial Oil Sands Innovation Challenge to demonstrate commercial technology that could reduce greenhouse gas emissions from production.

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Alberta itself aims to limit its own emissions and nine different companies, from Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. to the Canadian subsidiary of ConocoPhillips, had projects selected for funding.

CAPP President and CEO Tim McMillan said Tuesday that environmental policymakers should find the right balance to avoid any burdens.

"Industry has taken early action and continues to improve its environmental performance, while growing the economy," he said in a statement. "Canada's oil and natural gas industry are inventing and using leading edge technologies to minimize environmental impacts."


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