Cornerstone of the Oil Sands

A cornerstone of the oil sands, the joint venture undertaking among Imperial Oil Resources Limited; CNOOC Oil Sands Canada; Sinopec Oil Sands Partnership; and Suncor Energy Inc., makes Syncrude one of the largest producers of synthetic crude oil from oil sands in the world.

As Syncrude passes its 40th year as a major economic driver in Alberta, Business Elite Canada takes a look at the group’s influence in the oil sands.

First Nations Relations

Syncrude recognizes local First Nations and Métis people as among the most significant communities of interest impacted by its business. The group operates on the traditional lands of five First Nations and, since its earliest days, have worked to accommodate their interests, as well as those of the Métis Locals, wherever possible.

Local Aboriginal communities represent a significant source of local business procurement, and traditional environmental knowledge, and current and potential employees. Syncrude recognizes that effective engagement and productive consultation impacts every aspect of the Syncrude operation, now and into the future.

“One of Syncrude’s founding principles is local Aboriginal people should share in the opportunities created by oil sands development,” Greg Fuhr, Syncrude’s Vice President, Production, Mining and Extraction. “Seeing the growth of Aboriginal representation in our workforce shows we’re on the right track when it comes to meeting our commitment to employing First Nations, Métis and other Aboriginal people.”

Syncrude is also a recognized leader in Indigenous relations, with total cumulative procurement of over $3 billion ($342 million in 2017) from Aboriginal companies and its status as one of the country’s largest employers of Indigenous people.

“Our aim is to support Aboriginal communities through relationship-building and formal agreements that are aligned with our mutual interests, mitigate concerns, provide benefit to affected communities, and are in accord with Canadian law,” says Syncrude. “Toward this, our Aboriginal Relations policy clearly defines our engagement principles, with a focus on sharing opportunities through employment, business development, community-guided investment, effective engagement and consultation, and environmental programs.”

Mildred Lake Extension

Syncrude is proposing to extend the footprint of the Mildred Lake North Mine operation to sustain Syncrude’s production of high-quality crude oil. Called the Mildred Lake Extension Project (MLX), it would commence production around 2023-2024, pending regulatory approval.

In January, 2019, the Mikisew Cree First Nation and Syncrude have ratified an agreement on oil sands development that addresses project-specific impacts and benefits of Syncrude’s operations on the community.

The agreement builds upon longstanding ties between the Mikisew Cree First Nation and Syncrude first formed in the 1970s, when band members were able to begin working for the oil sands company as part of the Fort Chipewyan Rotational Program.

As a result, the Mikisew Cree First Nation has withdrawn as an intervener from the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) hearing on Syncrude’s Mildred Lake Extension (MLX) project that began Jan. 22.

“This new partnership with Syncrude builds on the successes that we have had with Syncrude for more than 40 years and ensures we both share in the benefits of this new mine extension,” says Chief Archie Waquan. “It also ensures our members will have access to long term, stable employment opportunities that support Mikisew families.”

“This agreement reflects our philosophy that Indigenous communities should share in the opportunities that come from developing the oil sands,” says Syncrude Managing Director Doreen Cole. “This agreement ratifies our goal of shared success for Syncrude and the Mikisew Cree while responsibly developing the oil sands.”

Community Engagement

“Syncrude is proud to have supported the food bank for more than 20 years,” adds Cole. “The food bank hopes to raise $300,000 for the Syncrude Corporate Challenge and I’m confident the people and businesses of the region will meet that goal.”

The Corporate Challenge is a one-day fundraiser that encourages pledges and challenges from businesses, clubs, service groups and individuals.
Syncrude has donated more than $500,000 to the food bank in the past five years through the annual event.

Syncrude continues to be a major engine of growth for the Alberta and Canadian economies. Over the last five years, the company has generated a total economic impact of $31.7 billion across the nation. As a large producer of crude oil from the oil sands, Syncrude has a tremendous and positive impact on the economies of Alberta and Canada.

As one of Canada’s largest and longest running oil sands operations, Syncrude’s cumulative production exceeds 2.8 billion barrels. Syncrude continue to contribute billions of dollars to Canada’s economy through the payment of wages, royalties and taxes and procurement of goods and services.