* Q1 EPS C$0.32 vs C$0.38 last year
* Q1 sales up 3 pct
* Realized prices up 10 pct
* Expects total output to rise through the year
April 25 (Reuters) - Nexen Inc's first-quarter profit fell 15 percent, hurt by lower production, but the Canadian oil company maintained its second-quarter output forecast as it looks to improve production from a handful of big-ticket projects.
For the current quarter, the company maintained its production forecast of 190,000 to 235,000 barrels of oil equivalents per day (boe/d) as it expects output at its Long Lake oil sands project to move closer to capacity.
The company is ramping up production at the C$6.1 billion Long Lake project, which has never reached its nameplate capacity of 72,000 barrels of bitumen per day.
Under interim Chief Executive Kevin Reinhart, Nexen is also planning to cut downtime at the Buzzard oil field in the North Sea, which has struggled over the past year with reliability issues at the site, resulting in frequent downtime.
The company said it expects total production to continue to rise throughout the year and into 2013.
Nexen posted a first-quarter profit of C$171 million ($173.00 million), or 32 cents per share, down from C$202 million, or 38 cents per share, a year ago.
Net sales rose 3 percent to about C$1.69 billion, helped by a 10 percent increase in the realized prices for oil and gas.
Cash flow from operations, a key measure of the company's ability to fund development, rose marginally to C$670 million.
First-quarter total production before royalties fell 12 percent to 202,000 boe/d, the company said.
Nexen said results were hurt by reduced production at its Syncrude oil fields in Alberta due to unplanned maintenance, which is expected to continue into the second quarter.
Nexen shares closed at C$19 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Tuesday. They have lost about 18 percent in the past year.