Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Suncor Energy CEO Says Hard to See More Major Growth Projects on the Horizon

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Suncor Energy CEO Says Hard to See More Major Growth Projects on the Horizon

Article excerpt

Suncor CEO says no big projects in near-term

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CALGARY - The head of Suncor Energy is outlining a near-term future without major growth projects as Canada's largest oilsands company focuses on lower costs and reducing its environmental footrprint.

CEO Steve Williams told investors at the company's annual general meeting Thursday that Suncor is taking a more disciplined approach to growth, citing the deferral of projects like the MacKay River Expansion, a steam-driven oilsands development in northeastern Alberta, and the White Rose offshore oil extension off Newfoundland.

But he said the company is still pushing ahead with the $13-billion Fort Hills oilsands project that it half owns and the US$14-billion Hebron offshore project on the East Coast, in which it has a 21 per cent stake. Both are expected online by late 2017, but after that, Suncor expects to take a step back.

"We've got two major growth projects coming to a conclusion. It is difficult in the current economic environment to see how you would approve those types of projects," said Williams in a conference call prior to the annual meeting.

"You will see us taking a breath around growth projects," he added. "There isn't a go back to how we were."

After the meeting in Calgary, Williams said he doesn't expect to make any big mine announcements for the next five to 10 years or even longer as the company looks to smaller-scale, steam-assisted developments known as in-situ projects.

Williams said Suncor could decide in 2018-19 on proceeding with some of those projects, which use pipes and steam to release oil from below ground. But the market is offering cheaper alternatives, he added.

"Right now I can buy on the market facilities that are operating for the same or less price than we could build ourselves," said Williams.

The company announced late Wednesday that it was buying a five per cent additional stake in the Syncrude oilsands project for $937 million from Murphy Oil Corp. …

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