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Syncrude aims to earn and maintain the support of our stakeholders by sharing information that enables understanding of our work. We seek ideas, input and feedback on our plans in a manner that fosters cooperation and mutual trust. We also participate in collaborative stakeholder processes that manage cumulative impacts and promote sustainable development. For employees, we are committed to communicating business-related information that helps them understand our goals, plans and performance, and do their jobs effectively. To promote the growth and well-being of the region where we live and work, Syncrude contributes to projects that enhance quality of life. For more details on our stakeholder engagement policy, visit our website.
The effectiveness of our stakeholder relations program is managed through the Operations Integrity Management System (OIMS). It is stewarded regularly throughout the year at the executive level to ensure desired outcomes are achieved. An internal audit occurs each year, with an external audit conducted by a Joint Venture owner every three years. In addition, we follow the Mining Association of Canada (MAC) Towards Sustainable Mining protocol for Aboriginal and Community Outreach. This includes an internal assessment of our performance against the protocol each year, and external third-party verification, including stakeholder interviews, of this assessment every three years. Syncrude’s performance was verified at the top performance rating for 2013. Results are published annually on the MAC website.
We regularly engage with a diverse cross-section of stakeholders, both locally and outside of our region. Their perspectives on our performance help us understand concerns and meet their expectations for responsible development, and are key factors when governments determine regulation and approval of our operations. Stakeholders include (in alphabetical order):
Examples of Syncrude’s direct engagement with stakeholders are referred to throughout this report. The following are some key additional highlights.
Syncrude announced in 2012 its intention to develop the Mildred Lake Extension (MLX) Project to sustain bitumen production levels after depleting our currently approved mining areas. Syncrude issued its proposed Terms of Reference for the project’s Environmental Impact Assessment in September 2013, and the Terms were finalized in December. We submitted our regulatory application in late 2014.
Representing the Oil Sands Community Alliance (OSCA), a senior executive sits on the Athabasca Oil Sands Area Transportation Coordinating Committee, which reviews and makes recommendations to the Alberta government on the current and future transportation needs of the Athabasca oil sands region. The committee also includes representatives from the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, the Alberta Economic Development Authority, the Fort McMurray Airport Authority, the Northern Alberta Development Council, and the Alberta Government. The committee issued a 2013 report that outlined a priority list of immediate low-cost options to maximize use of current infrastructure, as well as funding and governance options to address critical and long-term infrastructure priorities.
Other engagement with the provincial government includes continued liaison with officials at Alberta Environment and the Alberta Energy Regulator regarding Directive 074 and our tailings management technology approach.
Syncrude, along with two other oil sands operators, engaged with the Municipality to advance a proposal for the development of an express bus lane entering Highway 63 from a Fort McMurray subdivision to enhance safety and ease traffic congestion. The proposal was successful and one bus lane is now operating; the other remains under discussion. We also regularly engage municipal officials on issues such as transportation, sustainability initiatives and taxation.
Senior leaders contribute locally to the Regional Recreation Corporation Board, which ensures effective delivery of recreation and sports initiatives, and the City Centre Action Committee, which examines growth projections and development.
Syncrude had discussions with representatives from the local education community to learn about program and infrastructure need and opportunity areas. The dialogue will help identify projects for Syncrude’s support through our community investment program.
Syncrude employees also volunteer their time on major local boards. Kara Flynn, Syncrude Vice-President of Government and Public Affairs, serves as the Chair of the Keyano College Board of Governors, and Jeff Thompson, Business Controls Advisor, serves as the Chair of the Board of Trustees for the Fort McMurray Public School Board.
Syncrude engaged with various stakeholders during the reporting period through our participation in the Oil Sands Community Alliance (OSCA), which is a non-profit, industry-funded association that works to foster responsible oil sands development. Syncrude provides leadership to OSCA at the Board and Committee level to identify, advocate and champion solutions on various issues related to the regional impacts of oil sands development. The four priority areas include workforce attraction and retention, community well-being, Aboriginal participation, and infrastructure.
Kara Flynn, Syncrude Vice-President of Government and Public Affairs, serves as Chair of the OSCA Community Well-Being Committee. Peter Read, Syncrude Vice-President of Strategic Projects, is a member of the Infrastructure Committee. Syncrude employees also chair, or are active on, committees related to transportation, health care, municipal affairs, Aboriginal affairs, co-generation and transmission, and environmental and regulatory affairs.
Significant work was accomplished in 2014, including collaboration with FuseSocial to develop the Wood Buffalo Strategy Roadmap which will help guide community sustainability. In addition, a Canadian Index of Wellbeing survey was conducted to gauge residents’ perceptions on community vitality, education, health care, environment, health, engagement, time use, and leisure and culture. Survey results can be found at the Canadian Index of Wellbeing website. Results will help inform local funding opportunities and areas of focus.
Additional examples of ongoing stakeholder engagement can be found on our website.
Syncrude provides funds to support community activities that enrich the lives of our employees and the communities in which we do business. Our corporate giving is designed to help us continue to attract and retain qualified employees, to improve the quality of life where we operate, and to enhance corporate reputation. A complete overview of our corporate guidelines can be found on our website.
Syncrude’s political contributions policy outlines our focus on donations towards fundraising activities that are generally open to the public, such as ticket purchase or table sponsorship. Only the Chief Executive Officer is allowed to authorize donations. In 2014, donations of $8,000 were made towards table purchase at two political leadership dinners.
Over $6 million was invested in 2014, which included donations announced or continuing:
Syncrude’s investment of $500,000 in the Women in Scholarship, Engineering, Science and Technology (WISEST) program at the University of Alberta is opening minds and doors. The program provides Grade 11 students the opportunity to have hands-on experience in science-related fields. Said one student: “Your support is very much appreciated and important to me! I have been given the chance to work as a fellow research student in the National Institute of Nanotechnology and National Research Council building on campus. It is important to me to represent the under-represented gender as I am guided through this Summer Research Program.”