Syncrude and Suncor Plant Tours
Touring the oil sands plants is the best way to experience the operation firsthand. The scope of the developments is overwhelming, while the size of the machinery is almost inconceivable. Two companies—Syncrude and Suncor—are involved in tour programs offered through Fort McMurray Tourism (780/791-4336 or 800/565-3947, www.fortmcmurraytourism.com).
Tours of the Syncrude site depart every Saturday at 9 a.m. in June, Wednesday–Saturday at 9 a.m. July–August, and Friday–Saturday at 9 a.m. in September. The Suncor tour departs Sunday–Monday at 1 p.m. in June and Sunday–Tuesday at 1 p.m. July–August. Regardless of which tour you choose, the itinerary is similar.
Departing from the Oil Sands Discovery Program, they involve a bus ride north with stops at Wood Bison Trail Gateway and the Giants of Mining display, and then a tour of either the Syncrude or Suncor sites, with time set aside to get out of the bus at a lookout point. The round-trip takes around four hours.
Tour cost is adult $30, senior and youth $25, which includes entry to the Discovery Centre and to Heritage Park. Children under 12 are not permitted and a security check is made before departure (have a photo ID ready). To join a tour you must make advance reservations. The tourism office has put together some accommodation/tour packages that are an excellent deal—around $180 per person for two nights’ accommodation and a tour.
© Andrew Hempstead, from Moon Western Canada, 3rd Edition