Canada Ltd. is one of the world's largest producers of
synthetic crude oil from oil sands and the largest single source
producer in Canada. It is located just outside
Fort McMurray in the
Athabasca Oil Sands, and has a nameplate capacity of 350,000 barrels
per day (56,000 m3/d) of oil, equivalent to about 13% of Canada's
consumption. It has approximately 5.1 billion barrels
(810,000,000 m3) of proven and probable reserves (11.9 billion
when including contingent and prospective resources) situated on 8
leases over 3 contiguous sites. Including fully realized
prospective reserves, current production capacity could be sustained
for well over 90 years.
The company is a joint venture between five partners. As a result,
Syncrude is not traded directly, but rather through the individual
owners. As of February 2018, the partners (by percentage): Suncor
Imperial Oil (25%),
 Because of Nexen's subsequent takeover by CNOOC, over 16% of the
Syncrude are controlled by
State Owned Enterprises (SOE).
The ownership board must approve all annual operating budgets and
proposed capital spending projects, and are required to provide the
funding for said activities based on their ownership share.
3 Oil sands tailings pond water
4.1 Keyano College
5 See also
7 External links
Syncrude was formed as a research consortium in 1964 by Ryan Sheppard.
Construction at the
Syncrude site began in 1973, and it officially
opened in 1978. Starting in 1996,
Syncrude has been expanding its
operations. Between 1996 and 1999, the original mine was expanded and
the plant was "debottlenecked", increasing production from 73.5
million barrels (11,690,000 m3) per year in 1996 to 81.4 million
in 1999. The total cost of this stage of expansion was $470
million. Between 1998 and 2001, a new mine, Aurora, was opened
35 km north of the original site, and further debottlenecking was
undertaken. Production started in Aurora in July 2001. Syncrude's
production increased to 90 million barrels (14,000,000 m3) per
year by the end of 2001. Total cost for this stage was $1 billion.
A third stage of expansion was undertaken between 2001 and 2006, in
which a second train at the Aurora line came online and the Mildred
Lake upgrader was expanded. The expansion added 100,000 barrels per
day (16,000 m3/d) to Syncrude's production (36.5 million barrels
(5,800,000 m3) a year assuming this is average). The cost was
$8.4 billion, a substantial cost overrun over the original estimate of
On April 12, 2010,
ConocoPhillips agreed to sell its share to Sinopec,
a Chinese state-owned oil company. The sale, for $4.65 billion, was
completed on June 25, 2010.
A 183 m (600 ft) smokestack is located at the facility which
is the second tallest in western Canada.
In April 2016,
Suncor announced that they had reached a $937-million
deal to acquire Murphy Oil Corp.'s five per cent stake in the Syncrude
project north of Fort McMurray, Alta. This follows the hostile
takeover of Canadian Oil Sands less than a year ago, and will increase
its interest in
Syncrude from just under 49 per cent to nearly 54 per
cent, making it the majority shareholder of the project.
Fort McMurray wildfire forced a complete shutdown of
Air releases of combined gases without volatile organic compounds
Canada in 2005 were 129,741,321 (kg) in total,
including ammonia (4,302,361 kg), sulphuric acid
(1,129,425 kg), xylene (501,461 kg), etc. The company was
also ranked as having the seventh highest air releases of combined
gases (without VOC) in
Canada in 2005. Syncrude's Mildred Lake
Plant Site is the largest greenhouse gas emitter in
12,359,420 tonnes of
CO2 equivalent in 2012.
Oil sands tailings pond water
Syncrude Tailings Dam
Syncrude is a member of Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance
(COSIA), an alliance of oil sands producers formed in 2012, who share
research on Environmental Priority Areas (EPAs) such as tailing pond
water and greenhouse gases. One of the major challenges facing COSIA
is the treatment of oil sands tailings pond water. "Tailings are the
sand, silt, clay and water found naturally in oil sands that remain
following the mining and bitumen extraction process." The problem
stems from the hot water process used by
extract bitumen from the
Athabasca Oil Sands
Athabasca Oil Sands which produce large
quantities of tailings pond sludge which remains stable for decades.
By 1990 it was considered to be the "imminent environmental constraint
to future use of the hot water process." Syncrude also
contributes to the industry-funded Joint Oil sands Monitoring Program
which was created in 2012 and managed by the federal and Alberta
governments. According to a 2013 article published in
Environmental Science: Processes Impacts, the tailings ponds contain
toxic chemicals such as "naphthenic acids (NAs) and process chemicals
(e.g., alkyl sulphates, quaternary ammonium compounds, and alkylphenol
ethoxylates)." The study used the computer program (CXTFIT) to
evaluate the transport behaviour of these contaminants through the
foundation as well as underground. The chemicals seep "through the
foundation of the tailings pond to the subsurface, potentially
affecting the quality of groundwater."
In an article accepted for publication in Environmental Science and
Technology journal in January 2014, Environment Canada's Richard Frank
and his team of scientists confirmed that, using new technology, they
were able to "fingerprint the mix of groundwater chemicals in the
area" proving that oil sands tailings pond water had leached into
groundwater and the Athabasca River. The study undertaken by a new
federal-provincial oil sands monitoring program used new $1.6-million
technology acquired in 2010. The equipment is able to "fingerprint
chemicals and trace them back to where they came from."
In August 2008,
Canada filed a lawsuit against Greenpeace
Canada for $120,000, plus costs, after 11
Greenpeace activists went on
to the company's Aurora North oil sands site July 24, 2008, to unfurl
anti-oil sands banners and unsuccessfully block a tailings pipe.
Company spokesperson Mark Kruger said the company filed the
lawsuit—which also names the activists individually—largely
because of safety concerns as the activists were "unfamiliar with an
industrial operation, and unfamiliar with some of the safety hazards
that can be present... We just want to ensure that, in the future,
nobody is putting themselves at unnecessary risk.”
Greenpeace chose the
Syncrude site for the protest because in April
2008, 1600 migrating ducks died after landing on a tailings pond
at the site (
Syncrude was fined $3 million.)
Syncrude announced an $800,000 multi-year donation, $500,000
of which was dedicated to the new community
Syncrude Sport and
Wellness Centre and the balance to Keyano Theatre’s Arts Alive
Series and student scholarships. In 2005,
Syncrude invested another
$200,000 and took the naming rights to the
Syncrude Sports and
Wellness Centre at Keyano College.
Canadian Centre for Energy Information
History of the petroleum industry in
Canada (oil sands and heavy oil)
Canada Oil Sands Trust. Retrieved
^ a b "Canadian Oil Sands Trust:
Syncrude Project". Retrieved April
^ "Review of
Canada Oil Sands Trust - pg 2.
^ "Activities in Canada". Nippon Oil Exploration. Archived from the
original on 2009-02-26. Retrieved 2009-02-17.
Canada Ltd. 2010. Retrieved
^ "Business Description".
^ a b c "Overview of Growth Stages". Syncrude. Retrieved April 13,
^ Janet Mowers (April 2005). "Gearing up". Oilweek. Retrieved April
Sinopec takes $4.65-billion US stake in oilsands with
ConocoPhillips buy". Vancouver Sun. 13 April 2010. Archived from the
original on 21 January 2014. Retrieved 1 April 2012.
Syncrude Stake to Sinopec". Press Release.
RigZone. 25 June 2010. Retrieved 25 June 2010.
Suncor snags majority control of
Syncrude with $937M Murphy Oil
deal". CTV News.
^ "Company Profile". Pollution Watch. Retrieved 2008-05-05.
^ "Tailings". COSIA.
^ Majid, A.; Boyko, V.J.; Sparks, B.D.; Ripmeester, J.A.; Kodama, H (1
January 1990), (PDF), Ottawa, Ontario: National Research Council of
Missing or empty title= (help)
^ "Frequently Asked Questions". 2013. Retrieved 22 February
^ "V". Environment Canada. 2013. Retrieved 22 February 2014.
^ a b "Federal study confirms oil sands tailings found in groundwater,
river". CTV News. 21 February 2014. Retrieved 22 February 2014.
^ Wang, Xiaomeng; Robinson, Lisa; Wen, Qing; Kasperski, Kim L (22 May
2013). "Determination of thermodynamic and transport parameters of
naphthenic acids and organic process chemicals in oil sand tailings
pond water". Environmental Science: Processes Impacts. 15 (7):
^ Oil sands study confirms tailings found in groundwater, river:
Federal study shows water from tailings ponds leaching into Athabasca
River, CBC News, 20 February 2014, retrieved 22 February 2014
^ Jeremy Klaszus, "
Syncrude sues greenpeace for $120,000", Fast
Forward Weekly, August 28, 2008
Syncrude invests $200,000 to bring award-winning Science-in-a-crate
program: Company also takes naming rights to future Sports and
Wellness Centre at Keyano to region". 25 May 2005. Retrieved 22
Canadian Oil Sands Trust