UPDATE 1-Canadian Oil Sands profit drops on lower oil prices

Thu Jan 31, 2013 5:28pm EST
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* Q4 net C$0.46/shr vs year-before C$0.48/shr

* Sales up 22 pct at 111,669 bpd

* Average price per barrel down 14 pct

CALGARY, Alberta, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Canadian Oil Sands Ltd , which owns the largest stake in Syncrude Canada Ltd, posted a 4.7 percent drop in fourth-quarter profit on Thursday, despite higher production, as oil prices fell.

Canadian Oil Sands, which has a 37 percent stake in the massive Syncrude tar sands mining and synthetic crude operation in northern Alberta, earned C$221 million ($221 million), or 46 Canadian cents a share, down from a year-earlier C$232 million, or 48 Canadian cents.

Analysts, on average, had expected a profit of 50 Canadian cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

During the quarter, sales averaged 111,669 barrels per day net to the company, up 22 percent from a year earlier, with operating costs averaging C$38.85 a barrel, compared with C$46.88 last year. The average price for its synthetic crude dropped 14 percent to C$89.99 per barrel.

Canadian crude prices plunged in the quarter because of inadequate pipeline capacity and refinery maintenance, particularly in the key U.S. Midwest market.

"Our average realized selling price of $92 per barrel in 2012 was relatively strong, given the dynamics of North American crude oil markets, Marcel Coutu, the company's chief executive, said in a statement.   Continued...