Sustainability at Suncor

Air quality

Suncor is committed to maintaining and improving air quality near all our operations.

We participate in programs to improve our air monitoring capability and understanding, with the goal of reducing our air emissions intensity over time. This includes testing and piloting new technologies to grow our understanding of characterization of air emissions.

Suncor works to reduce air emissions from our operations, through operational excellence, project design and innovation and technology. Our focus for air quality management is centred on air emissions (pollutants and greenhouse gases) and odours.

Management of air emissions is important for employees and contractors, the surrounding communities and the environment.

Male worker standing in front of Wapisiw Lookout at Suncor’s Base Plant.

Compliance and monitoring programs

Suncor participates in various provincial and regional emissions management framework programs. All our operations have controls and procedures in place to manage emissions. We also support air monitoring via various airsheds/organizations that monitor and report air quality, ensuring timely availability of results to the public and regulatory agencies in all areas of operations.

EH&S Policy

Guided by our Environment, Health and Safety Policy and through operational excellence and bold innovation, we strive to manage and minimize impacts on the environment and improve performance.

Continuous improvement

We have introduced a number of technologies and measures at several of our refineries, plants and worksites to help reduce releases of key air pollutants:

  • low nitrogen oxides (NOx) boilers and heaters
  • vapor recovery units to reduce volatile organic compounds (VOC) and hydrogen sulfide emissions
  • sulphur recovery units and scrubbers to reduce sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions
  • leak detection and repair programs to manage and reduce fugitive emissions on site
  • VOC and total reduced sulphur annual monitoring plan to reduce fugitive emissions from mining operations
  • selective catalytic reduction technology will be implemented as part of Suncor’s Oil Sands Base Plant Coke Boiler Replacement Project to achieve lower NOx emissions


Suncor regularly engages with community stakeholders, government and other external agencies to discuss best practices and odour management strategies, and regularly organizes meetings between industry and community members to discuss any concerns.

We’re also engaged in researching and testing new methods and technologies to monitor fugitive emissions. Through our involvement in Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance, we support technology development and shared learnings with other partner companies. We also engage with the Wood Buffalo Environmental Association, and the Fort McKay Air Quality and Odours Advisory Committee.

Air quality performance

Our key focus areas for air emissions monitoring and reductions include SO2, NOx and VOCs. Over the last five years, we have seen stable SO2 emissions intensity performance, an increase in NOx emissions intensity and a decrease in VOC emissions intensity.

Air emissions


2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Suncor total SO2 intensity
0.06 0.07 0.07 0.06 0.06
Suncor total NOx intensity
0.09 0.09 0.09 0.10 0.11
Suncor total VOC intensity
0.07 0.07 0.08 0.08 0.06

*The increase in NOx emissions intensity in 2019 was primarily due to increased diesel consumption for the mine fleet as well as higher utilization of the coke boiler following a 2018 scheduled turnaround at Oil Sands Base Plant.

**In 2019, VOC emission intensity decreased relative to 2018 performance. This is mainly due to the repair of Terra Nova’s hydrocarbon blanket gas and recovery system as well as a decrease in annual fugitive emissions at Fort Hills and Base Plant driven by the annual monitoring campaign as per the VOC and TRS monitoring plan.

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