Suncor Energy (TSX: SU; NYSE: SU) is looking at increased production from oilsands next year as the Fort Hills project ramps up to full capacity and a trimmer capital budget.
Synthetic crude oil (SCO) production will be 395,000 to 435,000 bbl/d and cash operating costs are expected to be $15 to $28 per barrel. The estimate accounts for a larger proportion of production being higher margin SCO as well as planned maintenance at the Firebag project.
The Fort Hills project will add 85,000 to 100,000 bbl/d to Suncor’s bottom line as the second train is brought into stable production and an expected utilization of 90%. The higher production rate is anticipated to reduce cash operating costs by about 40%, to between $23 and $27 per barrel.
Located 90 km north of Fort McMurray, Alta., the Fort Hills mine is owned 54.11% by Suncor, 24.58% by TotalEnergies, and 21.31% by Teck Resources.
Next year will be the first full year that Suncor is the operator at the Syncrude project. The guidance for production is between 175,000 and 190,000 bbl/d, about 5% higher than 2021. Production and cash operating costs are expected to drop by 3% to $31 to $34 per barrel.
Ownership of Syncrude is divided among Suncor (58.75%), Imperial Oil (25%), Sinopec (9.03%), and CNOOC (7.23%). Suncor became operator of the project on Oct. 1, 2021.
Suncor also estimated that its oilsands operations would get a capital injection of between $3.2 billion and $3.5 billion upstream expenditure. The company has proposed an extension of the Base mine to 225,000 bbl/d, the Mildred Lake extension, replacing the coke boiler at the base plant, advancing the development of the Lewis in situ project, and the proposed Meadow Creek steam assisted gravity drainage project (a joint venture with CNOOC).
Suncor is owner and operator of the Millennium, North Steepbank and base mines as well as operator for the Fort Hills and Syncrude joint ventures, all of which are open pit mines. It also operates the Firebag and MacKay River SAGD operations, and it would operate about the proposed Meadow creek and Lewis SAGD projects.