Suncor pioneered oil sands development.
Our early investments in technology helped unlock the potential of the oil sands by improving reliability and performance, expanding productivity and driving down costs while reducing our environmental footprint.
Today, new technology and innovative thinking remains fundamental to how we do business. We invest in incremental and game-changing technologies and pursue operational efficiencies. We also monitor technologies being developed by external parties to determine if, and when, an investment makes sense to advance the technology or adapt them for our business.
From waterless extraction technologies to the reconstruction of a fen, we’re actively pursuing technologies to improve our environmental performance in the areas of land, air, tailings and water.
Electromagnetically Assisted Solvent Extraction
Instead of using water to produce steam to heat the bitumen, electromagnetically assisted solvent extraction involves using radio frequency to heat an in situ reservoir and a solvent to facilitate movement of the bitumen to the surface. This potentially game-changing technology may remove the need for water to heat bitumen at in situ operations.
In 2013, Suncor became one of the first companies in the world to complete reconstruction of this type of wetland in cooperation with university researchers and consultants across North America. The project – named Nikanotee (pronounced Nee-ga-no-tee), a Cree word meaning future – is the culmination of 10 years of collaborative research.
We are pursuing new technologies in surface mining and extraction that could reduce the need for water in the extraction of bitumen. If we can reduce the need for water and replace it with an alternative, we may be able to reduce the need for tailings ponds and potentially our greenhouse gas footprint as well.
Direct Contact Steam Generation
We are testing a technology that holds promise for minimizing water use and reducing greenhouse gas emissions during steam-assisted heavy oil extraction. This technology has the potential to reduce GHGs because a significant portion of the carbon dioxide may be sequestered in the SAGD reservoir. Using this technique, fresh water usage could be avoided and even tailings pond water could be used to further accelerate land reclamation efforts.