​Suncor now running automated heavy haulers at North Steepbank oilsands

Suncor Energy has completed the first step in the commercial rollout of electric driverless heavy haulers across its oilsands operations.

The company’s North Steepbank Mine is now fully operational with automated haulage systems (AHS), CEO Steve Williams told a Barclays investment conference in New York this week.

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North Steepbank is one of two mines that feed Suncor’s 350,000 bbl/d base plant north of Fort McMurray. The company started deploying AHS at the mine in January, following a field pilot that commenced in 2015. Over the next six years Suncor expects to increase its AHS fleet to over 150 haul trucks, which it believes is one of the largest investments in electric autonomous vehicles in the world.

“The rollout of this new technology at our mines in the first quarter was first in North America and to my knowledge it’s the first application of autonomous trucks in the world’s soft rock mining industry,” Williams said.

“We put this into place after several years of comprehensive testing. With our North Steepbank Mine now fully AHS operational, we believe it will result in safer, more productive mining operations with improved fuel efficiency and lower emissions.”

Suncor expects that AHS will save $1/bbl in cash operating costs, which were $26.83/bbl in the second quarter of 2018, with an operating netback of $38.77/bbl. 

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