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Message from Syncrude’s Leaders
In 1974, Syncrude’s first president, Frank Spragins, made a clear commitment to the Aboriginal people of northeastern Alberta. A commitment to ensure that the region’s First People would benefit from Syncrude’s operations and play an ongoing role in the company’s development and success.Since then, Syncrude has worked together with our stakeholders to build one of the most successful Aboriginal relations programs of any business in Canada. In fact, Syncrude is recognized as a leader for community relations and social responsibility across the country. As new leaders to the organization—and new residents to the region-we are committed to ensuring this continues.
As always, our focus is to meet the expectations of our stakeholders in providing responsible environmental management, greater access to education, support for community-based projects, meaningful employment, and rewarding business opportunities,. As you read through this year’s Review, we’re confident you’ll see that excellent progress was indeed made in each of these areas throughout 2007.
For example, Syncrude employs over 400 Aboriginal people in diverse occupations — from engineers and heavy equipment operators to mechanics and scientists. We are continually looking for opportunities to offer rewarding careers to as many qualified local residents as possible. As part of this commitment, the company expanded its rotational employment program to the communities of Janvier and Conklin. This program has already been quite successful in
Fort Chipewyan and we hope its expansion will lead to increased representation of the region’s Aboriginal people among our employees in 2008.
Syncrude also increased the value of our contracts with Aboriginal businesses. We spent over $143 million with local Aboriginal firms in 2007. This builds on the significant milestone achieved in 2006 when we surpassed $1 billion in cumulative spending with Aboriginal firms since 1992.
Recognizing the importance of youth development, we renewed Syncrude’s sponsorship of teaching placements at the Fort McKay School. In 2004, we approached the University of Alberta with a proposal to place Faculty of Education students in practicum teaching positions at the school. At the same time, we provided the funds necessary to support the students’ expenses for travel and accommodations. This has been a major win for the school because it brings in fresh perspectives on education and enhances the available teaching resources for the children. Indeed, one student teacher returned to Fort McKay for a full time position after graduation.
While youth hold the keys to the future, we also recognize the importance of Elders and the traditional knowledge they can share with us about the past. That’s why we stepped forward to support a home care program in Janvier that allows Elders to live in their homes while still receiving the care and services they need.
We are very pleased with the results achieved in 2007, but believe there’s always room for improvement.
For example, when it comes to environmental performance, we are taking significant steps forward. When we joined Syncrude this past spring, we introduced what is called the Global Reliability System. Proven in operations around the world, this ExxonMobil program has been shown to considerably improve the reliability of equipment and processes. This results in fewer plant upsets, fewer equipment failures and fewer unplanned shutdowns. It will also provide an even safer working environment for our employees. And, most importantly, it will help us in our ongoing efforts to reduce emissions and odours.
As an organization, Syncrude must continue to be diligent and responsible in our actions. That’s why we invest millions of dollars each year on projects that will help us find ways to better manage our environmental impacts. Indeed, we have recently made substantial commitments that will have extremely positive results. This includes an investment of over $700 million dollars on a project to reduce total sulphur emissions by 60 per cent by 2011. In addition, we participate in an industry group exploring ways to capture and store carbon dioxide emissions. As well, we are extremely pleased with the progress being made through collaborative reclamation programs based on the wisdom and traditional knowledge of Fort McKay Elders. In fact, Syncrude leads the oil sands industry in reclamation—over 4,500 hectares to date.
Positive outcomes like these are only possible through shared respect, trust and open communication. By working together with our Aboriginal stakeholders, we are confident we can continue to make significant progress on important issues and achieve great mutual success. By working together, we will develop the oil sands resource in a responsible manner that meets the expectations of everyone, now and in the future.
President and Chief Executive Officer
Vice President, Production
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