Suncor reports quarterly loss from year-ago profit

FILE PHOTO - Steam from a Suncor refinery rises at rear as pipes are seen traversing industrial zone dubbed "Refinery Row", also run by energy firms Enbridge and Kinder Morgan in Sherwood Park, near Edmonton, Alberta, Canada November 13, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

(Reuters) - Suncor Energy Inc, Canada’s second-largest energy producer, reported a quarterly loss on Tuesday compared with a profit a year ago, as lower prices for the country’s crude offset gains from higher refinery margins.

Canada, the world’s fourth largest producer of crude oil, has suffered from a steep discount for its oil, as tight pipeline space and insufficient rail capacity pushed the differentials between Canadian oil and U.S. prices to their largest spread in years.

Suncor produced 432,700 barrels per day from the oil sands operations in the fourth quarter, compared with 446,800 a year earlier. Cash operating costs per barrel for oil sands operations rose to C$24.50 a barrel, up from C$24.20 a barrel a year ago. The Calgary, Alberta-based company reported a net loss of C$280 million, or 18 Canadian cents per share, in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, from a profit of C$1.38 billion, or 84 Canadian cents per share, a year earlier.

The fourth quarter included a $637 million foreign exchange loss on the revaluation of U.S. dollar-denominated debt, as well as a non‑cash impairment loss on an equity investment.

Total upstream production rose to 831,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, compared with 736,400 in the year-ago quarter.

Earlier on Tuesday, Suncor announced its quarterly dividend was increased by 17 percent to 42 Canadian cents per common share, payable March 25.

Reporting by Debroop Roy and Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru; Editing by Leslie Adler