CALGARY, Alberta Feb 3 Canada's Suncor Energy Inc said on Monday it swung to a fourth-quarter profit of C$443 million ($400 million) as crude output from oil sands projects in northern Alberta hit record highs.
The company said, however, it was suspending guidance for production in Libya due to political unrest in the country. As a result, Suncor's total 2014 production guidance is now 525,000-570,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, down from an estimate of 565,000-610,000 boepd given in November.
Canada's largest integrated oil company said net income in the quarter was C$443 million or 30 Canadian cents per share, up from a net loss of C$574 million or 38 Canadian cents, in the year-earlier period.
Operating profit, which excludes most one-time items, dipped 1.5 percent to C$973 million, or 66 Canadian cents, lagging an average analyst forecast of 78 Canadian cents according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Suncor is Canada's dominant producer from the Alberta oil sands, forecasting a 14 percent rise in 2014 production from the world's third-largest crude oil storehouse. It also operates in offshore Newfoundland and the North Sea, in addition to Libya.
Chief Executive Officer Steve Williams said the company was working to ensure it could capture global pricing for its crude by avoiding transportation bottlenecks in Alberta.
"Looking ahead to 2014, we have already increased the flow of inland crude barrels to our Montreal refinery and begun shipping bitumen to the Gulf Coast to capture global pricing on nearly all of our production," he said.
The company's oil sands production rose 19 percent in the quarter to a record 409,600 barrels per day, mainly due to the ramp-up of the Firebag project. Total output edged up 0.2 percent to 558,100 barrels of oil equivalent per day.
Cash flow from operations, a key measure of the company's ability to fund new projects and drilling, rose 5 percent to C$2.35 billion or C$1.58 per share in the quarter.