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Canada's Suncor Energy aims to boost oil output while cutting emissions one-third

  • Fossil fuel companies, and especially producers in Canada's high-carbon oil sands, face growing pressure from investors and lenders to cut emissions.
  • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has set a goal of dropping national emissions by 40-45% by 2030, and reaching net-zero emissions for the country by 2050.
Published May 26, 2021

Canada's second-largest oil producer, Suncor Energy Inc, said on Wednesday that it plans to lift production to a record-high average of 800,000 barrels per day (bpd) over 2021-25, even as it cuts its emissions by more than one-third.

Fossil fuel companies, and especially producers in Canada's high-carbon oil sands, face growing pressure from investors and lenders to cut emissions.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has set a goal of dropping national emissions by 40-45% by 2030, and reaching net-zero emissions for the country by 2050.

Suncor, in a presentation at its annual investor day, said it would cut annual emissions across its operations by 10 million tonnes or 34% by 2030, through using lower carbon power, carbon capture facilities and other initiatives. Its emissions were 29 million tonnes in 2019.

The company plans to lift oil production by debottlenecking, or improving the efficiency of its current facilities, rather than building new projects.

"We will continue to produce oil sands for many decades to come," Chief Executive Mark Little said.

That comment is a huge concern and at odds with a scenario recently laid out by International Energy Agency, said Dale Marshall, national climate program manager at Environmental Defence. The IEA said investors should not fund new oil, gas and coal projects if the world is to reach net-zero emissions by mid-century.

Suncor said it is also aiming for net-zero emissions by 2050.

The company said it would focus its planned C$5 billion ($4.14 billion) annual capital spend through 2025 on reducing costs and improving "carbon competitiveness".

Suncor this month said it would partner with utility ATCO Ltd to develop a clean hydrogen project near Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, in one of the most significant steps taken by an oil sands producer to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

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