To minimize NOx emissions from our mining fleet, we focus on fuel quality, best available engine selection, continuous improvements in operating and maintenance practices, and mine plan efficiency.
Syncrude’s operating approval is based on our commitment to responsible environmental management, which includes meeting all regulatory requirements regarding air quality and emissions. In addition to sulphur dioxide, we monitor and report on other emissions such as nitrogen oxides (NOx) and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).
Nitrogen Oxide (NOx)
A research study by Environment Canada published in Geophysical Research Letters in early 2012 reported that the level of nitrogen dioxide (NOx) emissions from the oil sands industry is comparable to those of large power plants or medium-sized cities. Nitrogen oxide is created as a result of combustion required to provide power, heat and steam for process units, as well as from mining fleet vehicle emissions.
Our primary goals with respect to minimizing NOx emissions are to move the maximum volume of material while consuming the least amount of fuel and to have engines that continue to reduce emissions per litre of fuel consumed. To achieve these goals, we focus on fuel quality, engine selection, operating and maintenance practices, and mine plan efficiency.
The installation of NOx/PM after-treatment devices on our medium-duty support equipment has decreased site-wide mobile NOx emissions per barrel by over 8% during the last five years.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
VOCs can contribute to poor air quality. Sources of VOCs at Syncrude include naphtha losses to our Mildred Lake Settling Basin and hydrocarbon vapours from storage tanks. To reduce naphtha losses, waste water streams are directed through two Naphtha Recovery Units – a technology developed by Syncrude in the 1980s. In addition, a leak detection and repair program is in place which complies with the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment Code of Practice.