Canadian Natural profit falls on charges and weaker oil prices
* Q1 net C$213 mln vs C$427 million
* Adj. earnings C$0.37/shr vs C$0.42/shr expected
* Oil output up 24 pct
CALGARY, Alberta, May 2 (Reuters) - Canadian Natural Resources Ltd, Canada's largest independent petroleum producer, said on Thursday its first-quarter profit fell by half as lower prices and one-time charges offset record oil production.
The company said net income in the quarter fell to C$213 million ($211 million), or 19 Canadian cents per share, from C$427 million, or 39 Canadian cents, in the first quarter of 2012 as the company took non-cash charges of C$200 million on hedging and foreign exchange losses.
On an adjusted basis, earnings rose 34 percent to C$401 million, or 37 Canadian cents, from C$300 million, or 27 cents. Analysts on average had expected adjusted earnings of 42 Canadian cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Production of oil and gas rose 24 percent to 489,157 barrels of oil per day as the company ramped up production of heavy crude. Total production, including natural gas, was up 12 percent to 680,844 barrels of oil equivalent per day.
Canadian Natural said it received an average oil price in the quarter of C$60.87 per barrel, down 21 percent from the first quarter of 2012.
Canadian Natural's cash flow, a key measure of its ability to pay for new projects and drilling, rose 35 percent to C$1.57 billion, or C$1.44 per share, from C$1.28 billion, or C$1.16, in the year-prior quarter.
Canadian Natural shares rose 47 Canadian cents to C$29.47 on Thursday on the Toronto Stock Exchange.