(Reuters) - Canadian Natural Resources Ltd's (CNQ.TO) quarterly profit rose 40 percent and topped analyst expectations on higher output and crude price, and the country's No.2 oil producer forecast 17 percent production rise in 2012.
Canadian Natural Resources expects production of 675,000-726,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day in 2012 -- about 70 percent liquids and the rest natural gas.
West Texas Intermediate benchmark oil prices rose 18 percent from the year-ago quarter to $89.62 per barrel and European Brent prices rose 46 percent to $112.09.
Canadian Natural pegged its expected 2012 average WTI oil price at $88.12 per barrel.
The company's third-quarter net income rose to C$836 million ($825.6 million), or 76 Canadian cents per share, from C$596 million, or 54 Canadian cents, in the third quarter of 2010.
Earnings from operations, which exclude most unusual items, rose 25.5 percent to C$719 million, or 65 Canadians cents, exceeding the average analyst forecast for the measure of 53 Canadian cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Canadian Natural operates in the Canadian oil sands, with conventional production in Canada, the North Sea and offshore West Africa.
The company's cash flow, a key indicator of its ability to fund new projects and drilling, rose 14 percent to C$1.77 billion.
Production averaged at 612,575 barrels of oil equivalent per day, down 1.4 percent from the year-prior quarter.
Revenue rose 8.7 percent to C$3.29 billion from last year, ahead of analysts expectation of C$3.42 billion.
($1 = 1.013 Canadian Dollars)
Reporting by Aftab Ahmed and Maneesha Tiwari in Bangalore; Editing by Joyjeet Das