Suncor doubles dividend as oil price surge powers profit

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Suncor Energy facility is seen in Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada August 21, 2019. REUTERS/Candace Elliott/File Photo

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Oct 27 (Reuters) - Oil producer Suncor Energy Inc (SU.TO) doubled its dividend on Wednesday as a rebound in crude prices from pandemic-driven lows helped it post a third-quarter profit compared with a year-ago loss.

The company, Canada's No.2 oil and gas producer, has generated strong free cash flow this year as energy prices soar on tight supplies and growing global fuel demand. Earlier this month, the North American crude oil benchmark hit a seven-year high of more than $85 per barrel.

The rebound helped Suncor reinstate its dividend to pre-pandemic 2019 levels of 42 Canadian cents per share, from 21 Canadian cents per share.

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The company reported a net profit of C$877 million ($709.72 million), or 59 Canadian cents per share, compared with a loss of C$12 million, or 1 Canadian cent per share, a year earlier.

The Canadian oil sands producer said its Fort Hills mine in northern Alberta was on track to ramp to full rates by the end of 2021. It had discovered in July that a critical slope at the mine was becoming unstable.

The company produced 698,600 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) in the third quarter, compared with 616,200 boepd a year earlier and 699,700 boepd in the previous three months.

Refinery crude throughput, or the amount of oil it processed, was 460,300 barrels per day (bpd), 15.2% higher than a year earlier and a jump of 41.5% on the prior quarter.

Refinery utilization was 99%, compared with 70% in the second quarter and 87% a year earlier.

($1 = 1.2357 Canadian dollars)

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Reporting by Arathy S Nair and Ruhi Soni in Bengaluru and Rod Nickel in Winnipeg; Editing by Aditya Soni

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