MEG Energy posts bigger-than-expected quarterly loss

(Reuters) - Canadian oil sands producer MEG Energy Corp reported a bigger-than-expected quarterly loss on Thursday, as the company sold its bitumen crude at lower prices because of transportation bottlenecks.

Alberta oil producers have endured record discounts on benchmark Canadian heavy crude because of congestion on export pipelines that led to a glut of crude building up in storage tanks.

MEG, whose key operations are in the Athabasca oil sands region in Alberta, said bitumen production fell to 87,582 barrels per day (bpd) in the fourth quarter from 90,228 bpd a year earlier, while average realized prices for bitumen fell to C$13.90 per barrel from C$48.30.

Bitumen is a low-grade crude oil which is composed of complex, heavy hydrocarbons.

MEG estimates rail volumes to average 20,000 bbls/d in the first quarter, increasing to 30,000 bbls/d by the third quarter of 2019.

Adjusting for certain one-time items, the company posted a loss of 40 Canadian cents per share against expectations of a loss of 24 Canadian cents, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Reporting by Debroop Roy and Shradha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel