UPDATE 2-Suncor Q4 operating profit falls 30 pct, writes down Voyageur

Wed Feb 6, 2013 12:03am EST
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* Q4 net loss C$0.37/shr vs Q4.11 profit of C$0.91/shr

* Loss comes on C$1.49 bln upgrader writedown

* Q4 op. profit C$0.65/shr vs C$0.76/shr expected

* Decision on upgrader construction by end Q1

* Oil sands production rises 5 pct

CALGARY, Alberta Feb 5 (Reuters) - Suncor Energy Inc , Canada's largest oil company, posted a fourth-quarter loss on Wednesday as it wrote down the value of its Voyageur oil sands upgrading project just weeks before it is due to make a final decision on whether to build the facility.

Suncor took a C$1.49 billion ($1.49 billion) writedown on Voyageur and said the economic outlook for the facility, which would convert bitumen mined from the oil sands into refinery-ready synthetic crude, was "challenged" and it may not go ahead.

Suncor said it and partner Total SA will make a decision on whether to complete construction on the upgrader by the end of March. It conceded last November that the facility's profitability had been challenged by the flood of light oil coming from the Bakken field in North Dakota.

"The partners have been considering options for the project, including the implications of cancellation or indefinite deferral," Suncor said in a statement.   Continued...