UPDATE 1-Canadian Natural profit more than triples on record production

Thu Nov 7, 2013 1:51pm EST
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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 from a year earlier as a result of record quarterly production and strong oil prices.

Record production came even as steam restrictions remained in place at the company's Primrose site in northern Alberta, as a result of an ongoing bitumen emulsion seepage.

Overall production in the quarter hit a record 703,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, 5 percent above year prior levels. The company is targeting production growth of 7 percent in 2014, to reach a midpoint of 734,000 boepd.

President and CEO Steve Laut said a leak of tarry bitumen emulsion at CNRL's Primrose project was contained, although less than 15 barrels a day were still seeping to the surface.

The company has so far mopped up 11,500 barrels of the emulsion comprised of bitumen mixed with water, and said the clean-up operations were 80 percent complete.

The leaks, first spotted on May 20, prompted the Alberta Energy Regulator to restrict the amount of steam the company can pump into the oil sands reservoir to extract bitumen.

Although a review into the cause of the seepage is still ongoing, Laut said the company was confident it was caused by mechanical failure of old well bores. The company has identified 31 wells that have potential for further failure and is investigating them for a report to be submitted to the AER.

"We have got to get the review completed, have got to get access to a bunch of wells, so we have still got some drilling to do. We are preparing the report and will submit it as quickly and effectively as we can," Laut said.   Continued...