Suncor posts $821 million first quarter profit on higher output, better oil prices

Fort Hills substation Source: Suncor Energy

Suncor Energy Inc. is reporting positive first-quarter net earnings on higher production, lower costs and stronger oil and gas prices, reversing a big net loss in the same period of last year.

The Calgary-based oilsands producer and refiner says it had net earnings of $821 million or 54 cents per share in the first three months of 2021, compared to a net loss of $3.5 billion or $2.31 per share in the year-earlier period.

Analysts had expected Suncor to report first-quarter earnings of $232 million or 15 cents per share, according to data firm Refinitiv.

In the first quarter of 2020, Suncor had $1.8 billion of non-cash after-tax asset impairment charges and a $1 billion unrealized after-tax foreign exchange loss on the revaluation of U.S. dollar denominated debt. Its latest earnings include a $181 million unrealized after-tax foreign exchange gain on the revaluation of debt and an after-tax restructuring charge of $126 million.

Suncor says total production increased to 785,900 barrels of oil equivalent per day in the most recent quarter, compared to 739,800 boe/d in the same quarter of 2020, as upgrader utilization at its oilsands mines averaged 97 per cent and production of bitumen from wells reached a record level of 170,700 barrels per day.

Refinery crude throughput was 428,400 bpd as refinery utilization reached 92 per cent in the first quarter, compared to throughput of 439,500 bpd and utilization of 95 per cent in the prior year quarter.

“In the first quarter of 2021 we demonstrated our continued commitment to operational excellence through combined upgrader utilization of 97 per cent, record in situ production and improved cost performance in the upstream,'' said CEO Mark Little in a news release.

“In our downstream business, we continue to leverage our marketing and logistics network and optimized our inventory levels in advance of our spring (maintenance) turnarounds, which helped achieve average refinery utilization rates of 92 per cent and deliver strong financial results in the quarter.”

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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