May 11 (Reuters) - Canadian oil sands producer MEG Energy Corp reported a smaller-than-expected quarterly loss, helped by higher bitumen prices and lower production costs.
MEG, whose key operations are in the Athabasca oil sands region in Alberta, said average realized price for bitumen rose to C$37.93 in the first quarter, from C$11.43, a year earlier.
The company's net operating costs fell 1.2 percent to C$8.43 per barrel in the three months ended March 31.
Non-energy operating costs also fell 19.4 percent to C$5.20 per barrel in the latest quarter.
Bitumen production rose marginally to 77,245 barrels per day (bpd) from 76,640 bpd.
However, MEG's net profit shrank to C$1.59 million ($1.16 million) or 1 Canadian cent per share, from C$130.8 million, or 58 Canadian cents per share, a year earlier.
The latest quarter included more than C$98 million in gains, while the year-ago quarter had gains of more than C$335 million, primarily related to foreign exchange and commodity risk management.
Excluding items, the Calgary, Alberta-based company lost 29 Canadian cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Analysts on average had expected a loss of 33 Canadian cents.
Revenue nearly doubled to C$560 million, beating analysts' estimate of C$517.1 million. ($1 = 1.3707 Canadian dollars) (Reporting by Arathy S Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Sunil Nair)