It’s been two months since long-standing neighbours and oil sands pioneers, Suncor and Syncrude, joined in commerce matrimony. 

The two companies officially became one on Sept. 30, 2021—a critical step towards driving greater integration, efficiencies and competitiveness across all Suncor-operated assets in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB). 

Both companies have been critical builders of Alberta’s oil and gas sector since the 1960s and are deeply committed to the RMWB region, both in terms of employment and community investment. For many, Suncor and Syncrude have been fixtures in daily life, either as an employer that has employed not only themselves but also family members over multiple generations or as a sponsor of community activities, infrastructure or volunteer support. 

“We have been neighbours for almost 50 years and both Syncrude and Suncor have a proud history with deep roots in the industry and community,” says Mark Little, Suncor’s President and CEO. 

“Separately, we’ve each helped establish the oil sands as a reliable and competitive energy source. Together we can leverage our shared expertise to meet the world’s evolving energy needs and be leaders in sustainability. I am excited about our shared future and what we can achieve as one team.”

In the RMWB, Suncor operates its oil sands Base Plant, in situ assets Firebag and McKay River, as well as joint venture assets, Fort Hills and Syncrude. Since 2016, Suncor has grown its ownership in Syncrude from 12 per cent to 58.74 per cent through acquisitions.

Other joint venture owners for the Syncrude asset are Imperial Oil Resources Limited (25 per cent), Sinopec Oil Sands Partnership (9.03 per cent) and CNOOC Oil Sands Canada (7.23 per cent).

“Since the plan to assume operatorship was announced a year ago, we’ve worked closely with the Syncrude team as well as the other joint venture owners to ensure a smooth transition of operatorship,” explains Mark. “This is a new chapter for the Syncrude project and by capitalizing on the collective strength of all of the Suncor-operated assets in the RMWB, we’ll work to improve operating performance and unlock significant value.”

Suncor President and CEO chats with a Syncrude employee on the day Suncor assumed operatorship of Syncrude.
Suncor President and CEO chats with a Syncrude employee on the day Suncor assumed operatorship of Syncrude.

This integration will lead to improvements and benefit from the collective strength of Suncor and Syncrude’s regional operations while continuing to responsibly develop Alberta’s valuable oil sands resource—a goal shared by both companies.

The coupling also means that both Suncor and Syncrude will benefit from shared expertise, similar operations and the regional proximity of assets. Ensuring Suncor’s operations remain regionally and globally competitive.

Initiatives like the Interconnect Pipeline—bi-directional pipelines that connect Suncor’s Base Plant and Syncrude’s Mildred Lake operations, optimizing facilities and improving reliability—have proven that working as one allows both companies to achieve more flexibility in the operations, which leads to more production.

The integration is already showing signs of the growth that is to come, according to Suncor’s latest quarterly results. Suncor’s total upstream production increased to 698,600 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boe/d) in the third quarter of 2021, compared to 616,200 boe/d in the prior year quarter, due to continued strong performance from the company’s in situ assets and increased production volumes at Syncrude.

The change in operatorship is expected to generate cost savings through eliminating duplicate costs and services, coordinating maintenance and turnaround activities, sharing best practices and increasing buying power by combining supply chain operations. The savings for the joint venture owners could add up to $100 million in the first six months, with an additional $200 million through 2022 – 2023.

As long-time neighbours and community partners, Syncrude and Suncor are excited about the economic growth and prosperity for Alberta and the rest of Canada.

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