Canadian Natural Resources posts surprise profit on cost savings

(Reuters) - Canadian Natural Resources Ltd CNQ.TO posted a surprise profit on Thursday, helped by cost-saving measures and a slight recovery in fuel demand after COVID-19 lockdowns were eased across the world.

The Calgary, Alberta-based company, which like its peers curtailed output and slashed spending in the low-price environment, said it was on track to save about C$745 million in operating costs in 2020.

Last month, Canada’s main oil-producing province of Alberta said it would lift mandatory output caps ahead of schedule in December as production cuts have raised prices for domestic crude and eased congestion in pipelines.

Canadian Natural said average realized prices for crude fell 27.3% to C$40.14 per barrel, while realized prices for its natural gas rose about 41% to C$2.31 in the third quarter, excluding hedging.

The company, which bought smaller rival Painted Pony Energy Ltd PONY.TO in August, produced 1.1 million barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) in the quarter, 5.5% lower than a year earlier.

On an adjusted basis, the Calgary, Alberta-based company posted a profit of C$135 million ($102.81 million), or 11 Canadian cents per share in the third quarter ended September 30, while analysts expected the company to break-even on a per share basis, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

Reporting by Yajush Gupta in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.