Recovering Bitumen from Oil Sands
Oil Sands

Our oil sands operations are the focus of Suncor’s business. We were the first company to develop the oil sands, creating an industry that is now a key contributor to Canada's prosperity.

Suncor holds one of the largest positions in the oil sands. We are committed to delivering safe, reliable, low-cost production, while being leaders in growth, technical innovation and environmental sustainability.

Oil sands is a mixture of bitumen, sand, fine clays, silts and water. Because it does not flow like conventional crude oil, it must be mined or heated underground before it can be processed. Suncor produces bitumen in two ways, mining and in situ.

Our Process and Production

Oil sands is a mixture of bitumen, sand and water.


About 20% of Canada’s oil sands is close enough to the surface to be mined. Suncor uses large trucks and shovels to extract the oil sands that are near the surface (approx. 130-200 ft deep). The mining operation includes both the Millennium and North Steepbank sites.

In Situ

About 80% of Canada’s oil sands are too deep to mine using traditional methods (truck and shovel). Suncor uses in situ technology, a three part process to drill, inject steam and extract bitumen to the surface.

Responsible Development

Suncor remains committed to responsible development of the oil sands as we expand our operations — generating the crude oil consumers need while working to:


Suncor continues to reclaim disturbed lands, including mines and tailings ponds. Wapisiw Lookout and most recently the Nikanotee Fen are examples of our vegetation and wildlife efforts.

Oil Sands videos

Do you want to learn about Suncor’s Oil Sands and In Situ operations? This step-by-step tour video will take you behind the scenes to find out about our mining and steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) processes.

Dinosaur fossil uncovered in mining operation.