In 2014, the Alberta Science and Technology Leadership Foundation recognized Syncrude’s Research and Development (R&D) Team with a Special Award for their collective 50-year contribution to the advancement of the science behind Canada’s oil sands. This commitment to innovation began in 1964 and continues to this day.
Syncrude operates large oil sand mines, utility plants, and a bitumen extraction plant and upgrading facility in Northern Alberta that processes bitumen and produces value-added light, sweet crude oil for domestic consumption and export.

Innovation is a core company value that has allowed Syncrude to evolve into an industry leader when it comes to developing the oil sands and addressing environmental needs including reclaiming mine sites.

“The industry was in its infancy in 1964 and solutions to unlocking the mysteries of the oil sands needed to be invented, tested, and implemented because they simply didn’t exist,” says Mal Carroll, General Manager of Research and Development. “We remain committed to advancing the industry through research and development while reducing our environmental footprint and returning the land we’ve mined back to nature.”

Syncrude is one of a few oil sands operators with a dedicated research and development facility in the oil sands industry. It is among the top 50 R&D spenders in Canada. The company allots about $65 million annually to research and development — more than half of which is invested in environmental initiatives.

It has invested more than $1.5 billion over the past 50 years on its own research and in collaboration with North American universities and research organizations to advance the oil sands industry and its leading-edge technologies. While this work has led to incremental, but significant, change in processes and technology, it has also produced major industry advancements.

From corrosion and erosion abatement and extending the life of tires used for heavy haulers to hydro-transport and innovative land reclamation projects, Syncrude continues to make steady and impactful progress for the responsible development of the oil sands.

These investments into R&D have generated an estimated $33 billion of value for Syncrude and include more than 200 patents awarded since 1966. The innovations to responsibly mine, extract, and upgrade bitumen would not exist to the extent they do today without the work of the Syncrude’s Research and Development team. Syncrude’s commitment to innovation and investment in research and development will ensure these advancements continue for the life of its operation and the industry as a whole.