The chief executive of Suncor Energy said on Thursday that he is taking steps to make the Canadian oil producer safer for its workers and its operations more reliable, after an employee died last month.
The worker died at Suncor’s Base plant in Alberta’s oil sands on Jan. 6, after a heavy haul truck rear-ended a second truck at the mine. The incident is the fourth fatality at a Suncor facility since late 2020, according to Scotiabank.
“As CEO, the accountability for safety and operational excellence is with me, period. Like, I own this,” CEO Mark Little said on a quarterly conference call with analysts.
The company will adopt new technology – common in the mining industry but new to the Canadian oil sands – on all mobile equipment to avoid collisions and manage fatigue, Little said, adding that it will be in place within 18-24 months.
Other steps include implementing standard risk assessments across all sites.
Suncor shares fell nearly 4% in Toronto in early trading, losing more ground than its peers. The stock is up 17% year to date, but lags rivals’ share gains.
Operational problems dogged Suncor last year, most recently at its Syncrude and Firebag sites in December due to cold weather, which also affected rival Imperial Oil Ltd.
Suncor discovered in July that it needed to change the slope of the south face of its Fort Hills mine, resulting in a delayed ramp-up of production and added costs.
“I know we need to do better,” Little said. “I have a plan, it’s been endorsed by the board and it’s in execution. This is critical for us.”
Suncor swung to a quarterly profit from a year-ago loss, the Canadian oil producer said on Wednesday, but its earnings missed expectations. Analysts said results were overall in line with expectations.