UPDATE 1-Alberta posts 3rd-quarter operating surplus; revenue up

Wed Feb 26, 2014 1:00pm EST

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CALGARY, Alberta Feb 26 (Reuters) - The Canadian province of Alberta, the largest source of U.S. oil imports, said on Wednesday it ran an unexpected C$1.2 billion ($1.1 billion) operating surplus over the first three quarters of the current fiscal year because of higher energy and investment revenue.

Doug Horner, the province's finance minister, said government revenue over the period was C$30.8 billion, ($27.7 billion), which was C$2.7 billion higher than forecast, while expenses totaled C$29.6 billion.

"The third-quarter operating results are back in the black," Horner said on a conference call. "We've ended the quarter with an operational surplus and I'm expecting we will have a C$1.4 billion surplus by the end of the year."

A weakening Canadian dollar and higher energy prices have helped boost Alberta's revenue from oil and natural gas production. Benchmark crude prices averaged $99.17 per barrel over the first three-quarters of the fiscal year, 6.7 percent more than the province's budget forecast.

The province, which separates its operating budget from its capital spending budget, borrowed C$2.7 billion over the nine-month period to fund capital projects.

Horner will present the government's budget for the 2014/2015 fiscal year on March 6.

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