CORRECT:Canadian Natural 2Q Profit Quadruples On Higher Oil Production, Lower Costs

Date : 08/05/2010 @ 1:37PM
Source : Dow Jones News
Stock : Canadian Natural Resources Limited (CNQ)
Quote : 36.96  0.14 (0.38%) @ 3:59PM

CORRECT:Canadian Natural 2Q Profit Quadruples On Higher Oil Production, Lower Costs

Canadian Natural (NYSE:CNQ)
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Canadian Natural Resources Ltd.'s (CNQ, CNQ.T) net income more than quadrupled during the second quarter as oil production and prices rose while the company's production costs decreased.

The only major negative factor the Calgary oil and gas producer reported was lower expected annual production from its Horizon oil sands project due to it being taken offline for unscheduled maintenance last month after a pipeline break.

Second-quarter net earnings came in at C$667 million, or 61 Canadian cents a share, while revenue increased by nearly a third to $3.6 billion.

Adjusted net earnings, which exclude the effects of hedging and currency fluctuations, were 63 Canadian cents a share, beating analysts' mean estimates of 56 Canadian cents a share.

Canadian Natural's shares rose 1.1% to $36.14 in recent trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Total production increased 10% to 649,195 barrel of oil equivalents per day during the quarter compared with a year earlier.

Canadian Natural's higher profits were largely driven by higher oil prices, as well as increased oil production. The company's average realized oil price rose 7% to C$63.62 a barrel. Much of Canadian Natural's production is heavy oil, which trades at a discount U.S. light oil benchmark prices, which averaged $77.99 during the quarter. Crude oil makes up 68% of Canadian Natural's production volume and 86% of its revenue.

"Canadian Natural continues to benefit from the decision to allocate capital to the oil portion of our portfolio rather than the natural gas portion," President Steve Laut said during a conference call Thursday, adding that the company expects natural gas prices to remain "challenged" near $4 a million British thermal units for the rest of this year.

The company's best production results came from its thermal heavy oil assets, where it reached record production of 96,000 barrels a day, a 53% increase from a year earlier.

Operating costs for the company's crude oil and natural gas liquids production also dropped 23% from a year ago due to operational efficiencies, and the company slightly lowered its annual operating cost guidance for all its operations, except oil sands.

The company lowered the top end of its production guidance for its Horizon oil sands project in northeast Alberta to 90,000 to 100,000 barrels a day--the previous top end had been 105,000 barrels a day--as a result of a pipeline break at the end of last month. Company executives said during the conference call that the break was likely caused by corrosion from high concentrations of an ammonia compound. Horizon would likely be up and running again by the end of next week and steps would be taken to prevent the same incident from happening again, the executives said.

Laut said during the conference call that the company was committed to moving forward with the second phase of Horizon's development, which would take production to 232,000 barrels a day, "but only when we can be certain that reasonable cost certainty can be achieved." The company estimated the project won't enter production until 2012 or 2013.

The company is also moving forward with its 45,000 barrel-a-day Kirby oil sands project in Alberta, which it expects to receive regulatory approval for this summer and to sanction in the fourth quarter.

-By Edward Welsch, Dow Jones Newswires; 403-229-9095;


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