By Nia Williams
CALGARY, Alberta, July 26 (Reuters) - Suncor Energy Inc , Canada’s second-largest oil and gas producer, reported a second-quarter profit on Wednesday due to stronger crude oil prices and increased production from some upstream assets and refining operations.
The company raised its 2017 capital budget to C$5.4 million-C$5.6 million, from C$4.8 million-C$5.2 million, after speeding up work at its Fort Hills oil sands project and to reflect increased costs at the Syncrude plant in northern Alberta following a fire in March.
Fort Hills and Hebron, Suncor’s offshore drilling project in the Atlantic, are expected to start producing oil by the end of 2017.
Suncor reported a net profit of C$435 million ($349.57 million), or 26 Canadian cents per share, versus a loss of C$735 million, or 46 Canadian cents per share, during the same period a year earlier when wildfires in northern Alberta disrupted production.
Suncor’s operating profit, which excludes one-time items, was C$199 million, or 12 Canadian cents per share, from a loss of C$565 million, or 36 Canadian cents per share, in the year-ago period.
Suncor produced a total of 539,100 barrels of oil equivalent per day in the second quarter, up from 330,700 boepd in the same period of 2016.
The company produced 352,600 barrels a day from the oil sands from April to June, compared to 177,500 bpd during the same period in 2016 when the wildfires were raging.
Suncor said output was impacted by a major turnaround at its Firebag oil sands project and the return to full production taking longer than expected.
Continuing problems at the Syncrude plant, majority-owned by Suncor, also weighed on production.
Syncrude has been running at reduced rates since a fire in March forced the company to bring forward planned maintenance and it is not expected to return to normal operating rates until early August.
“Although the performance of some of our oil sands assets did not meet our expectations in the second quarter, we have full confidence in these assets,” Suncor chief executive Steve Williams said in a statement.
The company expects full year oil sands operating costs to be C$23-26 a barrel, from a previous forecast of C$24-27 a barrel because of lower natural gas and maintenance costs.
Refinery throughput rose to 435,500 bpd in the second quarter of 2017 from 400,200 bpd a year earlier because of lower planned maintenance and more crude availability. ($1 = 1.2444 Canadian dollars) (Editing by Leslie Adler and Bill Trott)