* Q4 net C$0.46/shr vs year-before C$0.48/shr
* Sales up 22 pct at 111,669 bpd
* Average price per barrel down 14 pct
CALGARY, Alberta, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Canadian Oil Sands Ltd , which owns the largest stake in Syncrude Canada Ltd, posted a 4.7 percent drop in fourth-quarter profit on Thursday, despite higher production, as oil prices fell.
Canadian Oil Sands, which has a 37 percent stake in the massive Syncrude tar sands mining and synthetic crude operation in northern Alberta, earned C$221 million ($221 million), or 46 Canadian cents a share, down from a year-earlier C$232 million, or 48 Canadian cents.
Analysts, on average, had expected a profit of 50 Canadian cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
During the quarter, sales averaged 111,669 barrels per day net to the company, up 22 percent from a year earlier, with operating costs averaging C$38.85 a barrel, compared with C$46.88 last year. The average price for its synthetic crude dropped 14 percent to C$89.99 per barrel.
Canadian crude prices plunged in the quarter because of inadequate pipeline capacity and refinery maintenance, particularly in the key U.S. Midwest market.
“Our average realized selling price of $92 per barrel in 2012 was relatively strong, given the dynamics of North American crude oil markets, Marcel Coutu, the company’s chief executive, said in a statement.
The company’s cash flow, a measure of its ability to pay for new projects, rose 15 percent to C$418 million, or 86 Canadian cents, from C$363 million, or 75 Canadian cents in the year-prior quarter.
Canadian Oil Sands shares closed at C$20.99 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Thursday, down 59 Canadian cents. The shares have dropped 15 percent over the past 12 months compared with a 9.8 percent drop in the exchange’s energy index.