UPDATE 1-MEG Energy reports loss due to charges, weak oil prices

Thu Jan 31, 2013 2:27pm EST
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* Lost C$0.09 a share in quarter; earned C$0.46/shr year-ago

* Operating loss was C$538,000 in fourth quarter

* Cash flow was C$0.27 a share, vs $0.61 a share

* Shares rise 1.3 pct

CALGARY, Alberta, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Oil sands producer MEG Energy Corp reported a fourth-quarter loss on Thursday due to charges and low Canadian oil prices, even as production rose to a record.

MEG lost a net C$18.7 million ($18.7 million), or 9 Canadian cents a share, on a C$21.1 million foreign exchange loss. That compares to a profit of C$91.1 million, or 46 Canadian cents, including a C$33.7 million foreign exchange gain, in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Excluding the one-time item, the company lost C$538,000, less than one cent a share, in the fourth quarter of 2012, compared to a profit of C$57.8 million, or 29 Canadian cents, in the same quarter of 2011.

The loss came as inadequate pipeline capacity and refinery maintenance dragged down prices for heavy crude from the oil sands. The price for Canada's heavy oil benchmark, Western Canada Select, averaged $59.90 per barrel in the fourth quarter, a drop of 25 percent from a year earlier.

Still, analysts said MEG's cash flow - a measure of the company's ability to pay for an ambitious growth plan - was better than expected as production rose and it kept a lid on spending.   Continued...