The Journey toward Sustainable Energy Development-The Experience of Suncor Energy

By Coglon, David | Journal of Business Administration and Policy Analysis, Annual 1999 | Go to article overview

The Journey toward Sustainable Energy Development-The Experience of Suncor Energy


Coglon, David, Journal of Business Administration and Policy Analysis


The roots of Suncor Energy's enterprise as an innovative developer of hydrocarbon energy go back many years. In the late 1890s the Canadian government sponsored investigations of northern Alberta's Athabasca "tar sands" as a potential source of petroleum. Then, in the 1920s, Alberta scientist Karl Clark found a practical way to separate the bitumen from the sand. After adding hot water and caustic soda to the tarry sand using makeshift equipment that included the family washing machine, he discovered that the bitumen floated to the surface as a frothy foam, ready to be skimmed off. Clark's method was clearly workable. Yet the idea languished for decades until Suncor's precursor, the Great Canadian Oil Sands Ltd., began commercial development of oil sands at Fort McMurray, Alberta in 1967. Even then it was described as a "daring venture into an unknown field." But the company persevered with positive results.

Today, oil from northern Alberta's oil sands, including Suncor's Oil Sands operations, accounts for about one quarter of Canada's daily crude oil production. [See Figure 1] This figure is expected to continue to increase as oil from oil sands replaces declining conventional oil production.

Headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, Suncor has grown to become one of Canada's major integrated oil and gas companies, with assets of C$6.8 billion and approximately 3,000 employees. The company's Oil Sands operation, which achieved an average of 114,000 barrels of oil per day in 2000, continues to be the largest part of the business. But in addition, the company has a conventional natural gas exploration and production business in Western Canada and a refining and marketing operation in Ontario under the Sunoco brand name.

The company's growth strategy is focused on building on its existing assets while expanding globally and strengthening its presence in new segments of the energy business. A $2.8-billion expansion, called Project Millennium, is designed to more than double current oil sands production in 2002. Suncor's longer-term vision is to increase this to 400,000 to 450,000 barrels per day in 2008.

In 2000, Suncor also announced plans to invest $100 million in alternative and renewable energy by 2005. Suncor's vision for this business is to be a full-service developer of renewable energy, providing consumers with energy options that have environmental benefits and are competitively priced.

Underlying this vision of growth is Suncor's commitment to the principles of sustainable development.

"Business success isn't just about money," says Suncor CEO Rick George. "Our society has changed. In today's world a truly successful -- and sustainable -- business is one that makes a profit, and protects our planet and cares about people."

"More than 30 years ago, Suncor helped to pioneer commercial development of Canada's oil sands when many said it could not be done," says George. "This same pioneering spirit guides us on our journey to becoming a sustainable energy company."

The commitment to sustainable development reflects the company's desire to survive and prosper in a changing world. It also reflects some of the lessons learned after the company successfully reinvented itself during the early 1990s.

THE TURNAROUND AT SUNCOR

In the mid-1980s plunging world oil prices made Suncor's oil sands production uneconomic. The company's mining technique, based on giant bucket wheels and conveyor belts, was prone to breakdowns. The company was also burdened by under-performing operations in the conventional upstream and downstream businesses.

The crisis surrounding the future viability and sustainability of Suncor's operations caused the company to make important changes. In the early 1990s, under newly appointed CEO Rick George, Suncor embarked on an ambitious program to enhance existing operations and to pursue growth activities, with the aim of improving its long-term financial picture.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Journey toward Sustainable Energy Development-The Experience of Suncor Energy
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.