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Suncor Tops Profit Estimate as Oil Sands Production Soars to Record High

Canada’s Suncor Energy beat Q4 quarterly earnings estimates as its oil sands production jumped to an all-time high and total upstream production was the second highest in company history.

Suncor Energy (NYSE: SUreported late on Wednesday adjusted operating earnings of US$1.21 billion (C$1.635 billion) for the fourth quarter of 2023, down year-on-year due to lower crude and products realizations. But the adjusted operating earnings of US$0.94 (C$1.26) per common share were above the US$0.78 (C$1.05) expected in the average analyst estimate, per LSEG data cited by Reuters.

The higher upstream production and strong downstream operations in the fourth quarter helped Suncor beat analyst estimates, despite the lower profits that all oil companies have reported this earnings season, due to weaker oil and natural gas prices.   

Suncor booked for Q4 its “best-ever” Oil Sands production of 757,400 barrels per day (bpd), with upgrader utilization over 100% outside the maintenance period. Total upstream production hit 808,100 barrels of oil equivalent (boe/d) - the second-highest quarter in company history.

For full-year 2023, total upstream production of 745,700 boe/d was also the second highest in the company's history, while oil sands output was at a record high of 689,600 bpd, including best-ever production at Syncrude and Firebag, Suncor said.

“Upstream reliability across our operations was at or near record highs, achieving the second highest quarterly total production in the company's history and the highest quarterly Oil Sands production,” Suncor’s president and CEO Rich Kruger said.

“Downstream performance was equally strong with refining utilization in the quarter at 98%,” Kruger added.

Canadian oil producers in Alberta plan higher output for this year and expect to earn more from their heavy crude once the long-delayed expanded Trans Mountain Pipeline enters into service. Despite the uncertainty around the start date of the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion (TMX), some of the biggest Canadian producers plan to boost production in Alberta’s oil sands in the short to medium term.

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By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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