Over the next two decades, Suncor Energy will closely monitor progress on the site, including the growth of 630,000 shrubs and trees planted in 2010.
Suncor's in-situ project is located on leases known as "Firebag". The Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) technology uses underground wells to inject steam into the oil
Called snags or wildlife trees, dead trees have been deliberately placed (some even upside down) on Pond 1 to create perches and nesting sites for birds, and habitat for other wildlife.
Pond 1 has been carefully designed with small streams (swales) and mounds (hummocks) to help reproduce natural drainage patterns.
Pond 1 surface construction involved covering it with a layer of soil 50 cm deep. About 65,000 truckloads of soil were used.
In time, we expect this land will become a productive mixed wood forest and wetland environment.
Oats make a good cover crop for Pond 1 because the tall plants protect the vulnerable young tree and shrub seedlings during their critical first year.
Pond 1 operated from 1967 to 1997. Dykes were built to create a wider and deeper basin until eventually pond was lifted about 100 metres above the Athabasca River.