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CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Suncor Energy Inc (SU.TO), Canada's largest oil and gas company, said on Monday its first-quarter profit rose 36 percent on strong oil prices and a lower Canadian dollar
The company, Canada's dominant oil sands producer, reported net income of C$1.49 billion ($1.35 billion), or C$1.01 per share, up from C$1.09 billion, or 72 Canadian cents, in the first quarter of 2013.
Adjusted earnings, which exclude most one-time items, rose 31 percent to C$1.79 billion, or C$1.22 per share, from C$1.38 billion, or 90 Canadian cents.
The adjusted result was well ahead of the average analyst forecast for the measure of 93 Canadian cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The increase came as Suncor moved to concentrate on producing oil after selling off its natural gas assets. Nearly all its output during the quarter was crude oil, compared with 92 percent in the year-prior period, though production lagged as its operations in Libya remained shut in.
The company produced 545,300 barrels of oil equivalent per day, down from 596,100 boepd. However production from its oil sands operations, the country's largest, averaged 389,300 barrels per day, up 8.8 percent.
The price of Western Canada Select crude, the Canadian benchmark, averaged $75.55 per barrel in the first quarter, up 21 percent from a year earlier, while the Canadian dollar was worth an average of 91 U.S. cents, compared with 99 U.S. cents in the first quarter of 2013.
Along with its Alberta tar sands projects, Suncor produces oil offshore Canada's east coast, the North Sea and elsewhere. It also owns refineries in Canada and the United States.
Cash flow, a key indicator of the company's ability to pay for new projects and drilling, rose 26 percent to C$2.88 billion, or C$1.96 per share, from C$2.28 billion, or C$1.50.
Reporting by Scott Haggett