March 6 (Reuters) - Canadian oil and natural gas producer Crew Energy Inc posted a wider fourth-quarter loss on weak U.S. natural gas prices.
Natural gas prices fell as much 17 percent to average $3.54 per million British thermal unit in the October-December quarter.
For the fourth quarter, Crew reported a net loss of C$148.5 million ($149.43 million), or C$1.24 a share, compared with a net loss of C$14.2 million, or 18 Canadian cents a share, a year ago.
Production for the company, which operates in central Alberta and northeast British Columbia, nearly doubled to 30,034 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boe/d), helped mainly by the acquisition of Caltex Energy.
Petroleum and natural gas sales also more than doubled to C$142.1 million.
The company — which expects to spend C$300 million this year — said it will focus on its heavy oil assets. It plans to spend 14 percent less than last year as it turns more to oil and liquids production.
The steep drop in U.S. natural gas prices has forced many companies to invest in fields with a higher percentage of liquid content.
In January, Crew said it expects 2012 production to average 32,000-33,500 boe/d.
Crew Energy shares, which have lost more than a third of their value in the last one year, closed at C$12.49 on Monday on the Toronto Stock Exchange.