Suncor output hits record with oil-sands unit at full speed

By Robert Tuttle on 2/9/2017

CALGARY (Bloomberg) -- Suncor Energy Inc.’s production rose to a record last quarter after the oil-sands giant took control of the Syncrude processing unit and put it at full throttle.

Canada’s biggest energy company produced 738,500 boed in the period, up from 582,900 in the previous quarter, according to an earnings report Wednesday. The jump was largely due to its increased stake in the Syncrude upgrader, which processes bitumen mined in northern Alberta into light crude, and to boosting the utilization of the unit to 102% of nominal capacity, from 73% a year earlier.

Suncor has slashed costs to weather the industry downturn and is now benefiting from a 76% rebound in oil prices over the past year as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and other major exporters curtail production.

The company’s output has risen after it completed the acquisition of Canadian Oil Sands Ltd. last year, boosting its stake in the 350,000-bpd Syncrude oil mine and upgrader.

The company’s Fort Hills mine is scheduled for completion at the end of 2017. The project’s capacity was raised to 194,000 bpd from 180,000, and the estimated cost was raised to between C$16.5 billion and C$17 billion from between C$14 billion and C$16 billion.

Fourth-quarter net income was C$531 million, or 32 cents a share, compared with a loss of about C$2 billion, or C$1.38 a share, a year earlier, the Calgary-based producer said. Operating earnings of 38 cents per share beat the 30-cent average of 20 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg for profit excluding certain items.

Suncor shares fell 0.3% to C$40.51 in Toronto on Wednesday, before the fourth-quarter results were announced.

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