Energy for the Future (1990s, 2000s & 2010s)

Memories of the tough 1980s fade as the exciting 1990s begin. The company transforms from an unprofitable oil and gas company to a dynamic, highly profitable enterprise. The vision of President and Chief Executive Officer Rick George is to be a successful "sustainable energy company."

Numerous changes establish Suncor as a world leader in oil sands mining and processing. Suncor reduces operating costs by switching technology from bucketwheel excavators to truck and shovel mining, and the government changes tax royalties to reduce the risk for oil sands capital investments.

The decade ends with the launch of Project Millennium, a four-year, $3.4 billion expansion to increase production capacity to 225,000 by 2002.

Milestones (1990s)

Milestones (2000s)

Milestones (2010s)

Milestones (1990s)


Board of Directors elects Richard L. George to the Board and appoints him as president and chief operating officer of Suncor.


  • Richard L. George becomes president and chief executive officer.
  • Introduction of Sunoco Ultra Clean 94, a new super premium gasoline, replacing Sunoco GOLD™.


  • On March 18, Suncor becomes a publicly traded company with an initial share price equivalent to $2.38 (accounting for subsequent share splits).
  • Phasing out of bucketwheels begins. Cost effective and efficient trucks and shovels are the new technology.
  • Huge bucketwheel machine stands at Fort McMurray’s Oil Sands Discovery Centre as an important piece of oil sands history.


  • The Government of Ontario divests its interest in Suncor; Sun Company Inc. reduces its holdings to 55%.
  • Replacement of bucketwheels with trucks and shovels and streamlining of operations results in a reduction of 400 jobs.
  • Crane Lake Nature Trail opens on reclaimed land at a former Suncor oil sands site in Fort McMurray.


Suncor acquires a new lease across the Athabasca River from the company's existing operations and later develops it into the Steepbank Mine.


  • Sun Company Inc. of Philadelphia sells its remaining 55% interest in Suncor.
  • Suncor moves its head office from Toronto to Calgary. With 60% of Suncor's asset base in Alberta, the move brings the head office closer to major operations.


  • Employees at oil sands celebrate a milestone – 500 million barrels of oil produced since operations began in 1967.
  • Suncor’s sulphur dioxide emission reduction plant eliminates 95% of the sulphur dioxide from the powerhouse stack emissions.


  • The word "Energy" is added to the Suncor name to better reflect the company's ability to provide a broad range of energy products.
  • Suncor starts trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol SU.
  • Suncor celebrates the 30th anniversary of its oil sands operation.
  • Oil sands business breaks a production record, producing more than 100,000 barrels of crude oil in a 24-hour period.
  • Sunoco introduces a new high-performance premium Gold Diesel Fuel to industrial and commercial customers at its new diesel truck stop business.
  • Sunoco receives a Pollution Prevention Award from the Ontario government for eliminating leaks from underground storage tanks.


  • Suncor files an application with the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board to develop Project Millennium, an expansion to Suncor's oil sands operation.
  • Start-up of Plant 25, a $200-million addition to its oil sands upgrading facility.
  • Sunoco opens its first FleetFuels Cardlock in Ontario. The fuelling centres are activated with security PIN numbers for automated fuelling 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
  • Opening of the Steepbank Mine in Fort McMurray – a major step in the company's plan to increase oil production and lower operating costs.
  • Suncor reaches an international greenhouse gas emission trade agreement with Niagara Mohawk.
  • Suncor launches the Suncor Energy Foundation, a private charitable foundation fully funded by Suncor, to manage donations to Canadian charitable initiatives.


  • Construction begins on Project Millennium, an expansion project to increase oil sands production capacity to 225,000 barrels per day by 2002.
  • TransAlta builds, owns and operates a cogeneration facility at Suncor's oil sands facility. The agreement provides steam and electricity for increased production rates.
  • Canada’s Outstanding CEO of the Year is Rick George.

Riding on the growth and successes of the past, the new millennium focuses on providing energy for the future. This comes in a variety of forms… acquiring a ConocoPhillips’ refinery in Commerce City, Colorado, the opening of both the "Firebag" in situ oil sands facility in Fort McMurray, Alberta, and the development of wind power projects in Alberta and Ontario.

With the completion of Project Millennium, production capacity at oil sands increases to 225,000 barrels per day. With all the activity so far this decade, the future appears bright.

Milestones (2000s)


  • Suncor unveils plans to invest $100 million by 2005 in alternative and renewable energy.
  • Firebag, the company's first in situ oil sands project, is announced.


  • Commissioning of Project Millennium, a four-year, $3.4 billion expansion of oil sands mining, extraction and upgrading facilities. Capacity doubles to 225,000 barrels of oil per day.
  • Suncor partners with Enbridge Inc. to open Saskatchewan's first major supply of renewable energy – SunBridge Wind Power Project (17 wind turbines generating 11 megawatts of electricity).
  • Voyageur growth strategy is announced with a goal to increase oil production to half a million barrels per day by 2012.


  • Suncor increases total production by 53% to 239,500 barrels of oil equivalent per day – up from 156,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day in 2001.
  • A new record is set for cash flow, exceeding the billion-dollar mark and generating record financial results for shareholders.
  • Oil sands facility sets a new record for average production record: 205,800 barrels per day.
  • Suncor launches safety programs Journey to Zero and the President’s Operational Excellence Awards.
  • Sunoco Inc. changes company name to Suncor Energy Products Inc.


  • Suncor acquires ConocoPhillips’ Commerce City, Colorado, refinery, Phillips-branded retail stations and associated storage, pipeline and distribution facilities; 585 employees join the Suncor team.
  • Suncor is first to comply with the sustainability reporting guidelines of the Global Reporting Initiative with its 2003 Report on Sustainability.


  • Suncor celebrates the official opening of the Firebag in situ oil sands facility. The facility has significant environmental benefits – disturbing less land than open pit mining and using recycled water.
  • Suncor initiates approximately $1 billion worth of projects to expand presence in the downstream industry.
  • After 30 years, Suncor plants its three-millionth tree within the 900+ hectares of reclaimed land at the Steepbank Mine site.
  • Suncor celebrates the opening of second wind power project in Magrath, Alberta, producing 30 megawatts of electricity from 20 wind turbines.


  • Devastating January fire encases the upgrader in ice and cuts production by half for eight months. Thankfully, no injuries occur.
  • Commissioning of the oil sands upgrading expansion increases production capacity to 260,000 barrels per day of upgraded crude oil.
  • Suncor buys Valero Energy refinery, next to Commerce City, Colorado plant. Capacity increases to 90,000 barrels per day and 140 employees join Suncor.
  • Construction begins on a $120 million ethanol facility near Sarnia, Ontario to produce 200 million litres of ethanol per year then blended into Sunoco gasoline.
  • Suncor invests $3 million (largest in the company’s history) with the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Edmonton to address the shortage of skilled tradespeople in Alberta.
  • Suncor announces its third Alberta wind power plant near Taber, Alberta (30 megawatts) and first Ontario project near Ripley (76 megawatts).


  • On January 4, Suncor reaches a significant milestone at its oil sands facility – the sale of its billionth barrel of oil sands crude since operations began in 1967.
  • The first Suncor Energy-branded commercial "FleetFuels Cardlock" opens in Fort McMurray to meet the growing demand for high-quality, low sulphur diesel fuel and gasoline in the Wood Buffalo region.
  • Suncor receives regulatory approval to construct and operate a third oil sands upgrader. Part of the Voyageur growth strategy, the upgrader is a key component of increasing oil production to more than half a million barrels per day by 2012.


  • Suncor and partner Acciona Wind Energy begin construction of a 76-megawatt wind power project near Ripley, Ontario.
  • Suncor initiates the regulatory approval and stakeholder consultation process on plans to develop an expanded oil sands mining operation.
  • Suncor ties for first place in the oil and gas category of the Globe & Mail Report on Business Magazine’s fourth annual Canadian corporate social responsibility ranking.
  • Suncor is named one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies by Ethisphere Magazine, a publication dedicated to illuminating the correlation between ethics and profit.
  • Suncor is named to the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index for the ninth consecutive year.
  • Employees celebrate the 40th anniversary of the oil sands operation, reflecting on how far the business has come and the bright future ahead.


  • Shareholders approve a stock split of the company's common shares on a two-for-one basis.
  • Suncor and the Fort McKay First Nation establish a business incubator to promote economic development and entrepreneurship in the community of Fort McKay.
  • Suncor announces a $6 billion capital spending plan. Approximately $3.6 billion in spending is targeted to Suncor's Voyageur oil sands growth strategy.
  • The Suncor Energy Foundation celebrates its 10th anniversary. Since its inception, the Foundation has contributed more than $57 million to registered Canadian charitable organizations.


  • On March 23, Suncor and Petro-Canada announce their intention to merge.
  • Spending with Aboriginal companies in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo surpasses $1 billion mark.
  • Competition Bureau approves the proposed merger of Suncor and Petro-Canada.
  • The merger of Suncor and Petro-Canada becomes effective August 1, creating Canada's largest energy company and the fifth largest North American-based energy company.
Three-millionth Tree
St. Clair Ethanol Plant
NAIT Announcement
FleetFuels Cardlock
Ripley Construction
Merger announcement

As the 2000s come to a close, Suncor embarks on a new and exciting chapter. While much has changed, the company’s core identity remains unaltered. Suncor continues to be focused on responsibly developing Canada’s oil sands in a way that enhances social and economic benefits while striving to minimize environmental impacts.

With the merger complete, a larger, stronger and more financially flexible Suncor is in a position to compete globally while continuing to invest in both innovation and growth.

Milestones (2010s)


  • The ERCB approves Suncor’s tailings management plan which includes expanded implementation of its TROTM technology; a process expected to significantly accelerate the rate of land and tailings reclamation.
  • The 2010 Winter Olympic Games are held and Suncor, through its Petro-Canada brand, is the National Oil and Gas Partner.
  • An industry milestone is achieved when Suncor becomes the first oil sands company to complete surface reclamation of a tailings pond. The area, formerly known as Pond 1, is renamed Wapisiw Lookout to pay tribute to the history of the region.
  • Suncor enters into a strategic partnership with Total E&P Canada Ltd., to jointly develop the Fort Hills and Joslyn oil sands mining projects and restart construction of the Voyageur upgrader.
  • Suncor unveils its ten-year growth strategy with a target to increase production to more than one million barrels of oil equivalent per day.


  • Civil unrest escalates in Libya. Suncor withdraws from the region, evacuating all expatriate staff and offering support for non-Suncor evacuation efforts.
  • Capacity at the Sarnia-based St. Clair Ethanol Plant is doubled making it Canada’s largest biofuel production facility.
  • Many sanctions in Libya are lifted and Suncor takes preliminary steps to resume production with joint venture operator Harouge.
  • Edmonton refinery employees celebrate 60 years of operations.
  • Suncor celebrates the one-year anniversary of Wapisiw Lookout by planting the five-millionth tree at its oil sands site.
  • After more than 20 years as Suncor’s President and CEO, Rick George announces his intention to retire following the company’s Annual General Meeting in May of 2012.
  • Chief Operating Officer, Steve Williams, is appointed President and a member of Suncor’s Board of Directors. He will assume the role of CEO following the retirement of Rick George in May 2012.
  • Suncor complies with sanctions on Syria by declaring force majeure and suspending operations in the country.
  • Rick George is named 2011 Canadian Energy Person of the Year by the Energy Council of Canada.
  • Record earnings and production are achieved in 2011.


  • With the 2012 London Olympic Games on the horizon, Suncor, the proud owner of Petro-Canada, renews its partnership with the Canadian Olympic Committee for an additional four years.
  • Rick George retires from Suncor. Steve Williams becomes the company’s chief executive officer.


  • Suncor acquires Total E&P Canada Ltd.’s interest in the Voyageur Upgrader Limited Partnership’s assets, announces that Voyageur Upgrader project will not proceed.
Wapisiw Lookout
Biofuel Production
Five-millionth tree
Rick George announces retirement
Energy Person of the Year Awards
Olympic Announcement
Steve at AGM