3 years ago

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Suncor expects to mark

Suncor expects to mark an industry milestone in 2010 by becoming the first oil sands company to complete surface reclamation of a tailings pond. Pond 1 at Suncor’s oil sands facility. seeing the possibilities…tailings pond reclamation Suncor expects to mark an industry milestone in 2010 by becoming the first oil sands company to have a tailings pond with a trafficable surface that has progressive reclamation underway. The plan is to ultimately transform Suncor’s 136-hectare Pond 1, established in the 1960s, into mixed wood forest and a small wetland capable of supporting a variety of plants and wildlife. While a significant development, this milestone is also a reminder of the challenges that remain. Like any mining process, oil sands mines produce tailings. The tailings are a mixture of water, clay, sand and residual bitumen produced during the extraction process. After the tailings are pumped into large settling ponds, the sand drops out and is used to build holding dykes. The fine clay mixture left over forms a stable suspension that, over time, settles into a fluid-like deposit called fine tailings. Left alone, fine tailings would take centuries to consolidate into a soil-like deposit. Suncor is highly motivated to accelerate the pace of tailings reclamation. Our nine tailings ponds cover a total of 31.8 square kilometers (km) and contain approximately 230 million cubic metres of mature fine tailings (MFT). Active tailings ponds account for nearly 30 percent of the 17,749 hectares of disturbed land Suncor is currently working to reclaim. Suncor pioneered Consolidated Tailings (CT) technology in the 1990s. By adding gypsum, we were able to accelerate the release of water from the tailings and achieve a solid surface in years rather than decades. The released water is recycled in Suncor’s operations. CT technology is working, and we continue to work on increasing production efficiency. Suncor researched and developed new de-watering technologies that we are now working to implement on a commercial scale. Our goal is to reduce the backlog of tailings and ultimately eliminate the need for new tailings ponds at our mines (in situ production does not produce tailings). These emerging technologies are critical for Suncor. The Alberta government recently introduced regulations that set annual targets for reducing MFT and require surface reclamation of tailings ponds to be completed within five years of the ponds becoming inactive. The criteria established through this new directive are going to be difficult to achieve, but we’re confident that by implementing improved tailings practices we will be able to meet the regulator’s requirements. As we work to eliminate the need for future tailings ponds, we strive to ensure our existing facilities are as secure as possible. While concerns have been raised about tailings seepage, the fact is seepage is an important part of dyke construction that contributes to the dyke’s integrity and stability. But all of Suncor’s tailings ponds are designed with seepage control mechanisms that collect seepage and return it to the pond to prevent it from entering groundwater systems or waterways. Water quality monitoring in the Athabasca River shows no change in water quality either upstream or downstream of oil sands developments. On the web: A question and answer with Suncor’s Chris Fordham on meeting the tailings challenge, and more details on dry tailings technologies can be found in the “Minimizing Our Environmental Footprint” section under Tailings/ The Tailings Challenge. Suncor Energy Inc. 8 environmental performance

Suncor was an early mover in addressing the climate change challenge. In 1997, we were one of the first major energy companies to adopt a climate change action plan to manage greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across our operations. We have also voluntarily reported on our progress annually since 1995. climate change Investment in wind power is a key component of Suncor’s climate change action plan. We use revenues from oil sands development to invest in wind power, providing significant business opportunities where we build. Ripley Wind Power Project near Kincardine, Ontario. Suncor operates one of Canada’s largest ethanol facilities—the St. Clair Ethanol Plant in the Sarnia-Lambton region of Ontario. And progress has been made. We’ve invested in technology, improved energy efficiency and reduced GHG emissions intensity at our oil sands plant by 45 percent compared to 1990 levels. But we know much more can—and must—be done as our absolute emissions continue to grow. Suncor believes that our first lever to reduce GHG emissions is to improve reliability and energy efficiency across our operations. Our operational excellence focus launched in 2008 is aimed at revitalizing Suncor’s vision to do just that. Suncor continues to invest in renewable energy sources and to collaboratively advance new emissions-reducing technologies, including carbon capture and storage. As a responsible energy developer, we also continue to work with governments and other stakeholders on emerging public policy solutions aimed at finding the most effective ways to reduce global GHG emissions. In 2009, we are reviewing our GHG strategy in light of stakeholder concerns and emerging government policies. The revised strategy will help Suncor identify and implement future levers and actions to address stakeholder concerns and policy requirements. For the first time, we are making our annual Climate Change Report part of our broader Report on Sustainability. In these pages, we provide an overview of our performance in 2008 as well as our major challenges and priorities going forward. More information on all these aspects—including details on the performance of each of Suncor’s business units—can be found in the online edition of this report at climate change 9 2009 summary report on sustainability

2008 Corporate Sustainability Report -