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CALGARY, Alberta, Nov 7 (Reuters) - Canadian Natural Resources Ltd, the country's top independent oil producer, said on Thursday third-quarter profit more than tripled as a result of record quarterly production and strong oil prices.
The company said net earnings were C$1.17 billion ($1.12 billion), or C$1.07 per share, up from C$360 million or 33 Canadian cents in the third quarter of 2012.
Excluding items, Canadian Natural earned C$1.01 billion, or 93 Canadian cents, up from C$353 million the year-prior quarter, or 32 Canadian cents per share. The result beat the average analyst forecast of 90 Canadian cents according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The company had been expected to report strong quarterly results after saying last month that it expected strong cash flow on record oil production and robust prices.
"Our record cash flow this quarter of approximately $2.45 billion was due to the strong performance of all assets and the robust crude oil price environment," CNRL's chief financial officer, Corey Bieber, said in a statement.
"As expected, Canadian Natural achieved strong price realizations with the tightening of both heavy oil differentials and Brent-WTI differentials in the third quarter of 2013."
Cash flow, a key measure of the company's ability to pay for new projects and drilling, rose 71 percent to C$2.45 billion.
Production in the quarter hit a record 703,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, 5 percent above year prior levels.
CNRL shares were up 0.7 percent at C$32.72 in midmorning trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.