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Canadian Oil Sands Limited 2000 First Canadian Centre 350–7th Avenue SW Calgary, Alberta T2P 3N9

Tel: 403 218 6200
Fax: 403 218 6201


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Investing in our business to sustain success
Syncrude is investing in several major projects to support its operations and environmental performance. Information on each of these projects is provided below.

Investments to Sustain Production

Mine train replacements & relocations
Syncrude operates five mine trains on its active leases, four of which will be replaced or relocated by the end of 2014 to sustain a stable, efficient foundation for future bitumen production.  The relocations and rebuilds are necessary to support mine development advances and for the placement of consolidated tailings in pit. 

Plans are in place to coordinate these efforts such that production should not be affected.

Mildred Lake Mine Replacement
Syncrude has substantially completed construction of the Mildred Lake Mine Train Replacement, which began commissioning in October 2014. These new mine trains incorporate Syncrude's new wet crushing technology, which is expected to improve bitumen recovery and lower maintenance requirements.

Target in-service date Total cost estimate net to COS (estimated accuracy) Estimated % complete*
Q4 2014 $1.4 billion (+ 2% / - 2%) 99

Aurora North Mine Relocation
The Aurora North Mine Relocation project was completed in 2013, ahead of schedule and under the total estimated cost of $400 million.

Environmental Initiatives

Aurora North Tailings Management
The Aurora North tailings management project involves the construction of a composite tails (CT) plant at Syncrude’s Aurora North mine. A similar plant already operates at the Mildred Lake mine. It is part of Syncrude’s government-regulated tailings plan to manage tailings for eventual reclamation as its mines mature. A CT plant mixes mature fine tailings with gypsum and coarse tailings sand to transform the mature fine tailings into solid material suitable for reclamation.

The Aurora North tailings management project was completed in 2013, ahead of schedule and under the total estimated cost of $300 million.

Centrifuge Tailings Management
Syncrude has piloted centrifuge technology, compared it to alternative methods for processing tailings, and believes centrifuge technology is an effective solution for meeting the requirements of its plan for tailings management. Centrifuge technology produces a soft, clay-rich soil that can be used in Syncrude's reclamation efforts.

Target in-service date Total cost estimate net to COS (estimated accuracy) Estimated % complete*
H1 2015 $700 million (+10% / -10%) 90

*  The estimated % complete is based on hours spent as a % of total forecasted hours to project completion.

Syncrude has a multi-pronged approach to managing its tailings which includes water capping in addition to CT and centrifuge. See Tailings Management for more information on Syncrude’s plan to manage tailings.

Syncrude continues to work with other oil sands operators as part of the Canadian Oil Sands Innovation Alliance ("COSIA") to research and develop tailings management technologies.



A mine train is a modular process for crushing and mixing the oil sands with warm water to facilitate the extraction of bitumen from the oil sands. It includes three components: a crusher, which breaks down the bitumen ore after it has been mined; a surge bin that regulates the oil sands' feed into the process; and a mix box in which warm water is added to the oil sands to form a slurry suitable for pumping. The resulting slurry is then pumped to extraction via a hydrotransport pipeline, a Syncrude technology that conditions the oil sands for separation.

(1) Trucks dump into a Crusher
(2) A Surge Bin regulates the oil sand’s flow
(3) Warm water is added to the oil sand in a Mix Box
(4) The slurry proceeds to extraction via Hydrotransport, which conditions the oil sand for separation.

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Alberta Oil Sand(s) Deposits

The four deposits, Athabasca, Peace River, Cold Lake and Wabasca, have total resource in place estimated at 1.7 trillion to 2.5 trillion barrels. The Athabasca Oil Sands deposit, Alberta's largest and most accessible source of bitumen, contains more than one trillion barrels of bitumen over an area encompassing more than 30,000 square kilometers.

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The molasses-like substance that comprises up to 18 per cent of oil sands. Bitumen, in its raw state, is black, asphalt-like oil. It requires upgrading or blending to make it transportable by pipeline and usable by conventional refineries.
Bitumen cracking
A process that breaks large, complex hydrocarbon molecules into smaller, simpler compounds by means of heat.
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Carbon dioxide (CO2)
A non-toxic gas produced from decaying materials, respiration of animal life, and combustion of organic matter, including fossil fuels; carbon dioxide is the most common greenhouse gas produced by human activities.
Vessels in which bitumen is cracked into its fractions and from which coke is withdrawn to start the process of converting bitumen to upgraded crude oil.
Conventional oil
Petroleum found in liquid form, flowing naturally, or capable of being pumped without further processing or dilution.
Specialized equipment that receives oil sand feed and turns it into a slurry form for transport to the pump box.
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An undertaking to systematically remove plant capacity limitations through modifications of existing facilities and/or addition of capital facilities.
Diesel cetane count
A quality specification important in the production of diesel fuels.
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The process of separating bitumen from oil sand.
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Raw material supplied to refinery, oil sands upgrader, or petrochemical plant.
Flue gas scrubber/desulphurizer
Equipment that removes sulphur dioxide and other emissions.
Fluid coking
A major part of the upgrading process whereby high temperatures in a coker break down the complex bitumen molecules, reject carbon and cause bitumen molecules to reformulate into lighter fractions that become the main ingredients in upgraded crude oil.
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Greenhouse gases
Any of the various gases that contribute to the greenhouse effect.
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LC-Finer hydroprocessor
A major upgrading unit that breaks down bitumen by adding hydrogen with the aid of a catalyst to produce gas oil.
The process of optimizing an operational unit or facility to reach its design capacity.
Low-energy extraction
A process for extracting bitumen that uses about one-third of the energy of the traditional process, bringing significant cost and environmental benefits.
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Middle distillates
A classification of refined petroleum products that includes kerosene, diesel, and jet fuel.
Mine train
Modular units for crushing and mixing the oil sands with warm water to facilitate the extraction of bitumen from the oil sands.
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A refined petroleum product in the lighter classification that is often used to make gasoline.
Average realized selling price, after hedging, less operating costs and Crown royalties.
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Oil sand(s)
A composition of sand, bitumen, mineral-rich clays and water.
Oil sand(s) lease
A long-term agreement with the provincial government that permits the leaseholder to extract bitumen, other metals and minerals contained in the oil sands in the specified lease area.
Ore grade
The percentage of bitumen by weight in the oil sands.
Layer of rocky, clay-like material that lies under muskeg and above oil sands deposits.
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Strip ratio
The ratio of waste (overburden material that covers mineable ore) to ore; used to define the quality of an oil sands ore body.
Sulphur dioxide (SO2)
A compound of sulphur and oxygen produced by burning sulphur.
Typically, a synbit blend is a ~50/50 mix of bitumen and synthetic crude oil.
Syncrude Project
Canadian Oil Sands is a pure investment opportunity in light, sweet crude oil. Through our 36.74% interest in the Syncrude project, we offer a solid, robust production stream of fully upgraded crude oil, exposure to future crude oil prices, potential growth through high-quality oil sands leases and an attractive dividend.
Synthetic crude oil (SCO)
A high-quality product resulting from the mining, extraction and upgrading of bitumen.
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A combination of water, sand, silt, fine clay particles and residual hydrocarbon that is a by-product of removing bitumen from oil sand.
Tailings systems
Separation of water from sand and clay to enable incorporation of solids into reclamation landscapes and recycling of water back into the operations.
Tar sands
Oil sands are also referred to as tar sands. Oil sands are a naturally occurring combination of clay, sands, water and bitumen (a heavy, black viscous oil), whereas tar is a man-made substance.
Total volume to bitumen in place (TV/BIP)
The ratio of total ore plus overburden volume to total bitumen in place.
A unit shutdown essential for good maintenance of the mining, producing and upgrading facilities. A turnaround reduces production but does not usually halt it entirely as the various operating units are often duplicated.
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A facility that upgrades bitumen (extra heavy oil) into synthetic crude oil.
The conversion of heavy bitumen into a lighter crude oil by increasing the ratio of hydrogen to carbon, either by removing carbon (coking) or adding hydrogen (hydroprocessing).
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Vacuum Distillation Unit (VDU)
Capable of processing 285,000 barrels of bitumen a day, the VDU pulls streams of light and heavy-gas oil from hot bitumen feed delivered by the diluents recovery unit.
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