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CALGARY, Alberta, Oct 30 (Reuters) - Canadian Oil Sands Ltd , which owns the largest stake in the Syncrude Canada Ltd oil sands project in northern Alberta, said on Wednesday its third-quarter profit fell 27 percent from a year earlier as maintenance issues reduced output.
The company also cut its 2013 production range estimate for the massive Syncrude oil sands mining and synthetic crude operation near Fort McMurray, Alberta, to 97 million barrels from 100 million.
Canadian Oil Sands, which has a 37 percent stake in Syncrude, said profit fell to C$246 million ($235.31 million), or 51 Canadian cents per share, from C$336 million, or 69 Canadian cents, in the third quarter of 2012.
Analysts, on average, had expected a profit of 45 Canadian cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
A coker at Syncrude was shut for maintenance from June until August, reducing supply and pushing up the average price of synthetic crude to $4.89 per barrel above West Texas Intermediate over the quarter, compared with $1.85 per barrel below WTI during the same period in 2012.
"It has been a particularly challenging year for Syncrude operations with maintenance issues in our extraction facilities and an extended coker turnaround in the third quarter," Marcel Coutu, Canadian Oil Sands president and chief executive officer said in a statement.
Sales volumes averaged 84,300 bpd compared with 113,300 bpd in the third quarter of 2012 as a result of extended maintenance turnarounds, the company said.
During the quarter operating costs averaged C$46.15 a barrel, compared with C$36.07 in the year-prior quarter.
The company's cash flow, a measure of ability to pay for new projects, fell 28 percent to C$339 million, or 70 Canadian cents per share, from C$470 million, or 97 Canadian cents.