(Reuters) - Canadian oil and gas producer Penn West Petroleum Ltd PWT.TO PWE.N reported a smaller-than-expected quarterly loss, as crude prices ticked up after a more than two-year slump.
Oil prices began to rise late last year and have now stabilized at above $50 per barrel, as an OPEC-led production cut and rebounding demand slowly erode a global glut.
The company said average sales price of heavy oil more than doubled in the first quarter, while light oil and natural gas liquids prices rose 65.3 percent.
However, operating costs rose 11.2 percent to C$14.48 per barrel of oil equivalent (boe) in the three months ended March 31, partly due to the timing and costs related to assets sold or held for sale.
Quarterly total production fell 54.7 percent to 34,900 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd), primarily due to asset sales.
Penn West had said in June it would sell its Saskatchewan assets for $975 million to Teine Energy Ltd.
The company — which in 2013 was a 133,000 boepd producer — operates primarily in the Cardium, Viking and Peace River areas of Alberta after shrinking its portfolio dramatically to help survive the downturn.
The company reported a net profit of C$27 million ($19.69 million), or 5 Canadian cents per share, in the first quarter ended March 31, compared with a loss of C$100 million, or 20 Canadian cents per share, a year earlier.
In the latest quarter, the company recorded a C$32 million gain from the sale of assets.
Excluding items, the company lost 1 Canadian cent per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Analysts on average had expected a loss of 3 Canadian cents per share.
Reporting by Arathy S Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta