Sun king of the oil sands castle
HIT HARD BY PIPELINE DELAYS, the Alberta wildfire, and prohibitive pricing for oil sands crude, Suncor, the country’s largest oil sands producer, still came out on top in 2016. The company held onto large enough cash reserves to not only beat out competitors as the top oil sands performer, but to buy up some of the competition, too. By far its biggest play of the year was the takeover of Canadian Oil Sands, the majority partner in the Syncrude megaproject. The deal left Suncor with a 49 percent stake in Syncrude—from 12 percent, previously—and a taste for more. From there, the short leap to majority ownership of Syncrude would be bridged just three months later when, in April, Suncor bought up Murphy Oil’s 5 percent stake in the project for $937 million, leaving the oil sands giant with a 54 percent controlling interest in the Imperial-operated site when the deal closed in June. Soon after making the move on Murphy, Suncor CEO Steve Williams would declare to the Calgary press that “we expect to be the last oil company standing.” So far, nothing about Suncor’s actions in 2016, including its robust defense of carbon restrictions, has indicated otherwise.