The Syncrude joint venture began in 1964 and started mining at the Mildred Lake site in 1978. After more than 55 years of innovation, many of the processes used in the industry today were created by Syncrude, including an expanding suite of technologies to improve environmental and future economic performance.
We successfully assumed the role of operator of the Syncrude asset in 2021, a critical step towards driving greater integration, efficiencies and competitiveness across all our operated assets in the region.
We hold a 58.74% interest in the Syncrude joint operation, which has gross bitumen conversion to synthetic crude oil capacity of 350,000 barrels per day (206,000 barrels per day, net to Suncor).
Mildred Lake and Aurora projects
Our Mildred Lake facility is 40 kilometres north of Fort McMurray, with approximately 6,000 people on site everyday. The Aurora project located an additional 25 kilometres north of Mildred Lake, has approximately 1,100 people on site.
After overburden is removed, open-pit mining operations use shovels to excavate oil sands bitumen ore, which is trucked to crushers that reduce the size of the ore.
Next, a conveyor moves the ore to the primary separation vessel.
Raw bitumen is separated from the slurry using a hot water process that creates a bitumen froth to form a diluted bitumen, which is subsequently sent to a centrifuge plant that removes most of the remaining impurities and minerals.
Coarse tailings produced in this process are placed directly into sand placement areas.
How Syncrude produces oil
The bitumen is upgraded into a high-quality, light, sweet crude oil through fluid coking, hydroprocessing, hydrotreating and reblending.
The final product, Syncrude Sweet Premium, is sent by pipeline to Edmonton area refineries and then via pipeline terminals to refineries across Canada and into the United States.
Syncrude is jointly owned by four partners.