Suncor Energy Inc.â€™s production rose to a record last quarter after the oil-sands giant took control of the Syncrude processing unit and put it at full throttle. Canadaâ€™s biggest energy company produced 738,500 barrels of oil equivalent a day in the period, up from 582,900 in the previous quarter, according to an earnings report. The jump was largely due to its increased stake in the Syncrude upgrader, which processes bitumen mined in northern Alberta into light crude, and to boosting the utilization of the unit to 102 percent of nominal capacity, from 73 percent a year earlier.
Suncor has slashed costs to weather the industry downturn and is now benefiting from a 76 percent rebound in oil prices over the past year as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and other major exporters curtail production. The companyâ€™s output has risen after it completed the acquisition of Canadian Oil Sands Ltd. last year, boosting its stake in the 350,000 barrel-a-day Syncrude oil mine and upgrader.
The projectâ€™s capacity was raised to 194,000 barrels a day from 180,000, and the estimated cost was raised to between C$16.5 billion and C$17 billion from between C$14 billion and C$16 billion. Fourth-quarter net income was C$531 million, or 32 cents a share, compared with a loss of about C$2 billion, or C$1.38 a share, a year earlier, the Calgary-based producer said. Operating earnings of 38 cents per share beat the 30-cent average of 20 analystsâ€™ estimates compiled by Bloomberg for profit excluding certain items.