Suncor files public disclosure document, launching Voyageur project approval process
The filing of a public disclosure government with government officials on February 22 launched Suncor Energy's regulatory approval and stakeholder consultation process for its plans to develop Voyageur South, an expanded oil sands mining operation north of Fort McMurray about three kilometres southwest of the company's existing oil sands operation.
Suncor plans to develop the mining operation using new technologies that are expected to improve operational performance while mitigating the impacts of development. "Investments in new technology are key to ensuring oil sands development provides economic benefits in a responsible manner," said Suncor president and CEO Rick George.
Among the most significant change planned for implementation at this project by is the use of mobile ore preparation equipment, instead of a truck and shovel mining system. By using this new technology, Suncor expects to reduce noise pollution and air emissions, in particular nitrogen oxides.
Compared to truck and shovel operations, the mining technology proposed by Suncor should require a smaller workforce which mitigates the social impact on the community. The smaller mining fleet is also expected to help Suncor better manage the costs of oil sands mining, from road maintenance to fuel expenditures.
Other technologies Suncor may use at the proposed development include new methods to advance tailings reclamation and reduce water inventories, as well as improved heat integration and extraction processes that could improve resource recovery while reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emission intensity. The company is currently conducting commercial-scale testing of these technologies, including the new mining equipment.
The results of these assessments, along with information gathered through stakeholder consultation and extensive environmental and socio-economic impact studies, will be reflected in the final project plan submitted to regulators.
"Our work has only just begun, as we continue to refine these technologies with a goal of advancing the oil sands industry while minimizing the footprint of development," said George.
Suncor expects to file an application to develop the project in mid-2007. Pending regulatory approval, construction should start in 2009, with operations beginning in 2011. The development's operational life is projected at approximately 40 years. Its preliminary capital costs will be submitted with the project application.