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We are proud to be one of the largest producers in the oil sands. But we take even greater pride in how we do it. Responsibly. Take a closer look and you’ll see that our commitment to the environment, our neighbouring communities and our people guides everything we do.

What percentage of water used by Syncrude was recycled in 2013?

The correct answer is 87%.

In fact, over the last 5 years the average has been 87%. Scroll down to test your knowledge on other topics discussed throughout the site. x
Committing about $3 billion
to tailings reclamation solutions.
Over $2 billion spent with Aboriginal businesses since 1992.
Donating over
$6 million
to community projects annually.
$1.6 billion to reduce SO2 emissions by 60%.

Air Quality

Good news is a breath of fresh air. Studies show
Fort McMurray’s air quality is better than cities such as Edmonton, Toronto and Seattle. What’s more, in 2013, we started operations of our $1.6 billion emissions reduction project to ensure air quality stays that way.

Support enhanced federal and provincial government environmental monitoring.
16 continuous and 20 passive air quality monitoring stations are located throughout the region. Learn more: www.wbea.org
Local air quality better than in major cities in North America.
How often is air quality measured in Fort McMurray?

The correct answer is 24 hours a day.

Air quality is independently monitored 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by the Wood Buffalo Environmental Association (WBEA). x

Climate Change

The oil sands industry accounts for 7.8% of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions and 0.14% of global emissions*. A focus on energy efficiency and conservation will help minimize the growth of GHG emissions from our operations in the future.

*Source: United Nations Statistics Division, Environment Canada

Pioneered low energy bitumen extraction and reduced growth
of GHG emissions.
The oil sands industry reduced GHG emissions per barrel by 26% between 1990 and 2011. Source: Environment Canada
Oil sands crude has similar CO2 emissions to other heavy oils.
GHG emissions from U.S. coal-fired power are about 32 times greater than from the oil sands. Source: Government of Canada
Heat recovery is built into our operations to reduce energy use.

Land Reclamation

Today we have around 4,500 hectares of land permanently reclaimed or available for revegetation. That’s equivalent to 23% of our disturbed land. What’s more, our land is home to a herd of wood bison managed in partnership with the Fort McKay First Nation. In 2013, the ranch celebrated 20 years in operation.

Required by
law to progressively reclaim the land we disturb.
First oil sands operator to receive government certification for reclaimed land.
Recognized with an Environmental Excellence Award by the Mining Association of Canada for our fen reclamation project.
How many trees and shrubs have been planted at Syncrude?

The correct answer is 7 million

To date, we have planted over 7 million tree and shrub seedlings on reclaimed land. x
The industry’s largest reclamation projects are now underway in our former east and west mines.
Photo: Even without planting them ourselves, rose bushes are growing naturally on reclaimed land.

Tailings Management

Tailings is a by-product of bitumen extraction that is primarily composed of water, clay, sand and small amounts of hydrocarbon that occur naturally within the oil sands deposit. Methods of reclaiming tailings include:

  1. Water capping - layering water over dense tailings to form a lake.
  2. Composite tails - adding sand and gypsum to densify tailings.
  3. Centrifuge - spinning out water to produce material that can be used in reclamation.

Research continues on additional methods, such as accelerated dewatering, to further optimize tailings management.

Composite tails are being used to reclaim the former east mine.
Around 3,000 instruments are in place to monitor our tailings structures.
Tailings ponds enable us to recycle water for use in the bitumen extraction process.
How much is Syncrude spending on reclaiming tailings?

The correct answer is $3 billion.

We are spending $3 billion on tailings reclamation technologies, like composite and centrifuge
tails. This is roughly equivalent to purchasing three NFL teams or six million iPads. x
Photo: Mature reclamation on Mildred Lake tailings berm.


Syncrude’s commitment to environmental stewardship encompasses biodiversity and programs aimed at ensuring our operations do not have a permanent impact on local ecosystems. As well, through ongoing reclamation, we will re-establish a diversity of wildlife habitats similar to those that existed prior to mining.

Wildlife studies now underway at proposed site of Mildred Lake Extension (MLX) Project.
Radar system deters birds from tailings ponds by tracking and then activating deterrents.
Studies indicate a healthy presence of songbirds in our reclaimed areas. Learn More: innovationanthology.com
We provide funding to regional groups for biodiversity monitoring.
How far into the future does Syncrude plan its reclamation?

The correct answer is 2080

We submit a reclamation plan to the Alberta Government every ten years, with a five year update in between. This plan details our reclamation goals and activities up to the end of our current mine life, which is around 2080. x
Early morning songbird monitoring on reclaimed land, 2011.

Aboriginal Relations

Long before Syncrude even put a shovel in the ground, we pursued a progressive Aboriginal relations program that, to this day, shares the opportunities generated by our oil sands operations. These include employment and business opportunities as well as investments in a broad range of community initiatives like education and
cultural retention.

Elders provide advice and feedback on reclamation programs.
Our Aboriginal Relations program has been in place for over 40 years.
Over $2 billion spent with Aboriginal businesses since 1992.
The only oil sands operator recognized for top excellence in Aboriginal relations by the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business.
What percentage of Syncrude’s workforce is comprised of Aboriginal people?

The correct answer is 9%

About 9% of our workforce is comprised of employees who are of self-declared First Nations, Métis, or Inuit descent. x

Water Use

Water is essential to Syncrude’s operations and plays a key role in our production processes. We recognize that water is a limited resource that must be managed carefully. That’s why we’re committed to taking prudent steps to manage and conserve the water we use and to protect the health of regional water bodies.

In 2013 87% of the water we used was recycled.
We only withdraw 1/5 of 1% of the Athabasca River’s average annual flow. During the winter, our withdrawal is 0.5%.
We do not discharge any process-affected water into local water bodies.
How many barrels of fresh water is used in the process to produce one barrel of oil?
2 5 12

The correct answer is 2.

At Syncrude, we use 2 barrels of fresh water to produce a barrel of oil. By comparison, National Geographic states it takes over 16 barrels just to make one cotton shirt. x
The Clearwater River photographed by Erin Stinson, wife of employee Kevin Stinson.

Research and Development

Innovation has been a cornerstone of our operations for 50 years. In 2013 alone, we invested over $190 million to improve operations and reduce our environmental impact. It’s this dedication to R&D that has made us a leader in the oil sands industry.

Syncrude research shows petroleum coke from our process acts like a home water filter and could treat tailings water.
One of the top 20 corporate R&D spenders in Canada for 2013.
Received over 150 Canadian & U.S. patents for our technology developments.
What percentage of Syncrude’s research budget is invested in the environment?

The correct answer is 50%.

Over half of our research budget is invested in improving environmental performance such as tailings management, reclamation and energy use. x
Member of Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA) to improve industry environmental performance. Learn More: www.cosia.ca


At Syncrude, contributing to local communities is more than “good business.” It’s about strengthening the places we call home and supporting the people who are our neighbours, friends and family.

Fort McMurray ranks as the top community in Canada for:

The correct answer is per capita United Way donations.

Fort McMurray has ranked as the top community in Canada for per capita United Way donations 8 years in a row. x
Good Neighbours employee volunteer recognition program awarded more than $220,000 to local organizations in 2013.
We donate over
$6 million to community projects each year.
Raised a record $2.5 million for the
United Way in 2013.


Syncrude is one of Alberta’s largest employers, counting about 5,000 employees in Fort McMurray, Edmonton and Calgary. We are a diverse organization, made up of highly skilled and talented individuals from across Canada and around the world.

Recognized in 2013 as Alberta’s top workplace for diversity.
Syncrude’s workforce is young – over 40% are under the age of 40.
Syncrude supports a diverse workforce – over 22% of new employees in 2013 were female.
Unwavering commitment to a workplace where “Nobody Gets Hurt”.
How much does Syncrude award in scholarships annually to children of employees?

The correct answer is both $2,400 and $1 million.

The correct answer is both $2,400 and $1 million. Children of Syncrude employees can qualify for up to $2,400 for each year of their post-secondary degree or diploma education. About $1 million in scholarships are granted each year. x

Economic Impact

Syncrude’s economic benefits are enjoyed clear across Canada. Since our start-up in 1978, we have contributed over $12 billion in royalties and taxes to all levels of government. These funds have helped build new infrastructure and provide essential
public services.

Oil sands activity is forecast to generate economic benefits of $28 billion in B.C. and $63 billion in Ontario alone over the next 25 years. Source: CERI 2011
Oil sands expected to contribute over $2.1 trillion to economy over the next 25 years. Source: CERI 2011
Over 21,000 people directly employed by the oil sands in Fort McMurray. Source: Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo 2011.
How much did Syncrude spend on goods and services in 2013?

The correct answer is $6.3 billion

In 2013, we spent $6.3 billion on the purchase of goods and services from companies across Canada and around the world. x


For more information on topics discussed in this booklet, please visit:

Environmental Monitoring
www.wbea.org www.jointoilsandsmonitoring.ca www.aemera.org
Carbon Capture and GHG Emissions
www.ico2n.com www.ihs.com
Research and Collaboration
www.research.syncrude.ca www.cosia.ca
Aboriginal Relations
General Oil Sands Information
www.oilsands.alberta.ca www.oscalberta.ca www.oilsandstoday.ca
Comments or questions?

We take great pride in our commitment to responsible development.

We have for 50 years. This pride is evident throughout our achievements to date, and our aim to do even better. We work hard to make Syncrude a great place to work, while pushing the limits of technology and championing the growth, health and heart of our communities. This booklet is a brief overview of interesting facts and outstanding achievements in oil sands development. We invite you to explore these facts and share them with others. We hope this information provides you with a fresh perspective on Syncrude and how we are responsibly securing Canada’s energy future.