Canadian Oil Sands Profit Falls as Crude Prices Slip

Canadian Oil Sands Ltd., the largest partner in Syncrude Canada Ltd., said fourth-quarter profit fell on lower Canadian crude prices and foreign-exchange losses.

Net income declined to C$221 million ($221.5 million), or 46 cents a share, from C$232 million, or 48 cents, a year earlier, the Calgary-based company said in a statement today. Earnings-per-share were less than the 49 cent average of four analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Canadian Oil Sands saw profit margins erode in the final months of 2012 as discounts for Canadian crude rose to their highest point in five years against the U.S. benchmark. The realized selling price per barrel for Canadian Oil Sands slipped 14 percent to C$89.99 from the year-earlier quarter.

Total production at Syncrude in the fourth quarter rose 19 percent to 27.5 million barrels from a year earlier, according to the statement. Sales rose 2.8 percent to C$1 billion from $973 million a year earlier. The company reported a foreign exchange loss of C$16 million in the quarter after the Canadian dollar weakened by one cent in the three months ending Dec. 31, according to the statement.

Canadian Oil Sands owns 36.74 percent of Syncrude, which held an estimated 4.8 billion barrels of proved and probable reserves at the end of 2010, according to its website. The other venture partners include Imperial Oil Ltd., China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. and Nexen Inc.

The earnings were reported after the close of regular trading on North American markets. Canadian Oil Sands fell 2.7 percent to C$20.99 at the close in Toronto.