Suncor Energy (U.S.A.) Inc. owns and operates the Commerce City Refinery. The refinery is comprised of three plants from two refineries, which Suncor acquired in 2003 and 2005. We are the only facility of this kind in Colorado and the largest in the Rocky Mountain Region, processing 98,000 barrels-per-day, and contributing $2.5 billion USD to the state’s economy annually, along with significant tax revenues in the Commerce City area.
We pride ourselves in keeping our operations local – including our products, workforce, and community initiatives. We purchase crude from the Denver-Julesburg Basin, process it in Commerce City, and sell nearly 95% of our products – including gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and paving asphalt – within the state. As a result, we are Colorado’s primary producer of paving-grade asphalt for roads and a major supplier of fuel to the state’s Western Slope via rail and truck. Our refinery is also a key supplier to the Denver International Airport, where we provide about a third of its jet fuel through a direct pipeline.
You can now sign up for Refinery Notifications, a new system that provides updates in English and Spanish when there is an event or incident at the refinery that does not require immediate action by the community.
We place safety above all else at the Commerce City Refinery, which operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Some activities that are part of normal, day-to-day operations at the refinery include:
Flaring: The flames that are sometimes visible at the top of the refinery’s pipe stacks are an important, safe, and regulated part of the refining process. Simply put, flaring relieves pressure. Flaring occurs when pressure from the refinery’s operations builds up and needs to be released, including during weather-related events, maintenance, or operational changes. There are also relief valves throughout the refinery that open and vent into the flare system if the pressure becomes too high to ensure that system safety is maintained.
Steam: Steam is generated on-site through various operations and used throughout the refinery to keep processes warm and power equipment. At all times, the refinery maintains an excess supply of steam during normal operations to account for steam demand. Excess steam can be seen at various venting locations across the refinery. During cooler weather, condensed water vapor clouds from cooling towers can also be seen.
Fire training: As part of our safety and emergency preparedness training, Suncor’s Emergency Response Team conducts fire training each year. This training happens at our on-site fire training grounds and typically produces large flames and thick smoke. The Emergency Response Team at the refinery uses water for this type of training; firefighting foam is not used during these on-site training events.
Increased maintenance activity: Proactive measures to drive safe and environmentally-sound operations at the refinery are ongoing, and it is normal to see cranes, scaffolding, or individuals working at tall heights. Every two to three years, Suncor will shut down portions of the refinery to conduct work that can only be executed while offline. These events, called turnarounds, take two to three years to plan and can bring hundreds of additional workers on site. Although this work can result in an increase in flaring, noise, and traffic, we take steps to keep these disruptions to a minimum.
With more than 500 employees based in the Denver region, Suncor Energy (U.S.A.) Inc. takes our role as a good neighbor very seriously. We are a part of the community and are committed to investing in programs that support projects and initiatives that have a real impact.
In the fall of 2020, we reached out to the community to get feedback about how we can better share information and data. Learn more about what we heard from hundreds of residents and the steps we’re taking to be a better neighbor. We will continue listening to, and investing in, our community.
We take our responsibility, as the state’s only refining facility, very seriously.
The refinery operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Learn more about activities that are part of normal, day-to-day operations including flaring, steam, fire training, and maintenance activities.
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Suncor Energy Inc. has numerous direct and indirect subsidiaries, partnerships and joint arrangements (“affiliates”), which own and operate assets and conduct activities in different jurisdictions. The terms ‘‘we’’, ‘‘our’’, ‘‘Suncor’’, or ‘‘the company’’ are used herein for simplicity of communication and only mean that there is an affiliation with Suncor Energy Inc., without necessarily identifying the specific nature of the affiliation. The use of such terms in any statement herein does not mean that they apply to Suncor Energy Inc. or any particular affiliate, and does not waive the corporate separateness of any affiliate. For further clarity, Suncor Energy Inc. does not operate or own assets in the U.S.