* Q1 op profit C$1.36 billion vs C$1.31 billion a year ago
* Q1 op profit per share C$0.90 vs estimate C$0.75
* Q1 cash flow per share C$1.50 vs C$1.55 a year-ago
* Q1 oil sands production rose 17 percent
* Q1 total refinery utilization 96 pct, up 4 percentage
April 29 Suncor Energy Inc's
first-quarter operating profit beat analyst expectations,
boosted by higher oil sands production and better profitability
in refining and marketing.
The quarterly results are the company's first since its
March decision to scrap its partially built Voyageur upgrader,
part of a joint venture with French oil major Total SA
Canada's largest oil and gas company's first-quarter
operating profit was C$1.367 billion ($1.35 billion), or C$0.90
per share, compared with C$1.318 billion, or C$0.84 per share,
in the year-ago period.
The results beat the average analyst forecasts of 75
Canadian cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Quarterly net profit was C$1.094 billion, or C$0.72 per
share, compared with a profit of C$1.446 billion, or C$0.93 per
share, a year ago.
Suncor's cash flow from operations, a glimpse of its ability
to pay for new projects, fell 5 percent to C$2.284 billion, or
C$1.50 per share, from C$2.415 billion, or C$1.55 a year ago.
Production from its oil sands operations rose 17 percent to
357,800 barrels per day, while total upstream output from its
operations in North America, the North Sea and north Africa was
6 percent higher at 596,100 barrels of oil equivalent per day.
Chief Executive Steve Williams said Suncor's refineries
contributed "to record quarterly earnings in the refining and
Williams also said Suncor's downstream business more than
offset the impact of low price realizations on its oil Sands
Total refinery utilization was 96 percent in the first
quarter, compared to 92 percent in the year-ago period. Total
refinery crude throughput averaged 443,000 barrels per day
during the first quarter, up about 6 percent.
Suncor worried that the synthetic crude produced in the
Voyageur upgrader from mined bitumen would be uncompetitive with
new light oil supplies from shale deposits like the Bakken field
in North Dakota, Saskatchewan and Montana.
Cancelling the upgrader also frees up cash it can use to
support its flagging stock price through dividend hikes and
share buybacks. Suncor shares have dropped 9.2 percent over the
past 12 months while the Toronto Stock Exchange's main index has
been flat over that period and investors are pressing the
company to increase returns.