Sustainability at Suncor

Air quality

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

We’re working to reduce air emissions from our operations, through operational excellence, project design and technology. Our focus for air quality management is centered on air emissions (pollutants) 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

We participate in various provincial, state and regional emissions management framework programs. This includes programs to improve our air monitoring capability with the goal of reducing our air emissions over time. All of our operations have controls and procedures in place to manage emissions. We also support air quality monitoring and reporting through various airsheds and organizations, ensuring timely availability of information to the public and regulatory agencies in all operating areas.

Oil Sands Monitoring Program

Suncor is an active member of the Oil Sands Monitoring Program since 2012. The mandate of this program is to “provide comprehensive environmental monitoring data and information to improve understanding of the long-term cumulative effects of oil sands development.” As part of this program, monitoring is conducted through approved workplans across multiple areas of focus including air, water, wetlands and biodiversity.

Continuous improvement

We continue to test and pilot new technologies to grow our understanding of air emissions. We also have a number of initiatives at our refineries and operating sites to help reduce releases of key air pollutants. Examples of technologies and measures implemented include:   

  • low nitrogen oxides (NOx) engines, boilers and heaters
  • 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 
  • replacement of oil sands mining mobile equipment, such as dozers, excavators, etc., with equipment that has more efficient engines and lower NOx emissions  
  • expansion of the use of hybrid solar and methanol fuel cells to provide power to remote systems in the mine, resulting in decrease of diesel consumption in the generators. 


We regularly engage with community stakeholders, government, and other external agencies to discuss odour management strategies and best practices, as well as organize meetings between industry and community members to discuss concerns. 

We also research and test new methods and technologies to monitor fugitive emissions. One way we do this is through Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA), which supports technology development and shared learnings with other member companies. Other external groups we partner and engage with include the Wood Buffalo Environmental Association, and the Fort McKay Air Quality and Odours Advisory Committee. 

Suncor is implementing an air monitoring program for Commerce City and the north Denver area. The program was born out of community feedback and concerns over air quality in the region, as well as consultation with area residents and learnings from monitoring programs in other regions. It will be implemented by a third party.

We want this information to be neutral, factual and trusted such that Suncor and the community can be informed and led by the data.
Donald Austin
Vice President, Commerce City Refinery
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