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Jun 9, 2020

Suncor CEO blasts Norway; says oil sands divestment 'not founded in fact'

'We have our work cut out for us': Suncor CEO on transforming Canadian energy to low-carbon

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Suncor Energy Inc. chief executive officer Mark Little said Norway’s sovereign wealth fund wasn’t working off the latest facts when it decided to blacklist four Canadian energy heavyweights - including the oil and gas giant itself - from its investment universe.

“Quite frankly, I don’t think they’ve really acknowledged the work that’s going on. In fact, I read their decision and a lot of it was predated to a whole different era and it didn’t take into account the things we’re doing,” Little said in a BNN Bloomberg broadcast interview Tuesday. “I’m disappointed in their decision associated with it.”

The US$1-trillion wealth fund – the largest of its kind in the world – has been cracking down on its exposure to fossil fuels over the past year, with Norges Bank’s executive board removing Suncor, Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., Cenovus Energy Inc. and Imperial Oil Ltd. from its portfolio for climate change reasons.

The fund’s decision came alongside the removal of a number of other global firms for reasons such as their involvement in coal or suspected human rights violations.

But Little argues the fund didn’t take into account Suncor’s multiple climate-related initiatives.

“There was no acknowledgement that Canada, with the oil sands, is the first jurisdiction and the only jurisdiction that I know of on the surface of the earth that’s extracting carbon from the barrel and putting it back into the ground before it ever becomes an emission,” he said.

That technology is also being used by Canadian Natural and Imperial.

He also pointed to the company’s $1.4-billion investment to install low-carbon power cogeneration units at its Oil Sands Base Plant, which is expected to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 2.5 megatons per year.

“If you ignore all of that and the progress then the decision is easy,” he said. “This is a journey and if you want to demonize it – great, that’s fine and people are obviously doing that. But that’s not the reality. We need companies and leaders to stand up, make decisions and make sure the future is different than the past.”

“We won’t let up whether Norges is invested in us or not,” he added.