Imperial Oil profit drops as Kearl output falls short

Thu Jan 30, 2014 10:44am EST

Jan 30 (Reuters) - Imperial Oil Ltd, Canada's No. 2 integrated oil company, said on Thursday its fourth-quarter profit fell 2 percent from a year earlier, hampered by weaker-than-expected production at its new Kearl project in the Alberta oil sands.

The company, 69.6 percent owned by Exxon Mobil Corp, said net income dropped to C$1.056 billion ($947 million) or C$1.24 a share, from C$1.076 billion, or C$1.26 a share, in the fourth quarter of 2012.

The results include new oil production from the company's C$12.9 billion Kearl oil sands mine, which began producing tar-like bitumen a year ago.

Built to produce 110,000 barrels per day, Imperial said the facility's output averaged 52,000 bpd in the fourth quarter as harsh winter weather and equipment reliability problems slowed production.

Including production from the Cold Lake oil sands project and its 25 percent share of output from the Syncrude Canada Ltd joint venture, Imperial produced 329,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, up from 285,000 in the year-before quarter due to increasing Kearl production and the acquisition of a 50 percent stake in Celtic Exploration Ltd.

Throughput at the company's three Canadian refineries averaged 387,000 bpd, down from 468,000 bpd in the fourth quarter of 2012 as a result of Imperial closing its Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, refinery.

Capital and exploration expenditures fell 13 percent to $1.567 billion in the fourth quarter from $1.793 billion a year earlier.

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