Canadian Natural's production miss clouds profit beat

(Reuters) - Canadian Natural Resources Ltd CNQ.TO reported quarterly production that fell short of its own estimates, making it the latest victim of transportation bottlenecks in Alberta and muddying its better-than-expected quarterly profit.

FILE PHOTO: Pipelines at Canadian Natural Resources Limited's (CNRL) Primrose Lake oil sands project are seen near Cold Lake, Alberta, Canada, August 8, 2013. REUTERS/Dan Riedlhuber/File Photo

The company reported a 15 percent rise in production to 1.05 million barrels of oil equivalent per day (MMboe/d) in the second quarter ended June 30.

In May, the company had forecast 1.054 MMboe/d for the quarter, saying that it was limiting output due to capacity constraints.

Production in Canada has surpassed pipeline capacity, leading to a bigger-than-usual discount on Canadian heavy crude and hurting the country’s heavy oil producers.

The company said it was looking to boost production of light crude to capitalize on rising prices for the variety and avoid transportation constraints and price differentials with WTI CLc1.

Canadian Natural produced 84,811 barrels per day (bbl/d) of heavy crude oil, down from 89,345 bbl/d a year earlier. Production of North American light crude oil and natural gas liquids (NGL) was also marginally down at 89,906 bbl/d.

However, the company’s average realized price of oil rose to C$61.14 per barrel from C$47.12, reflecting a recent surge in oil prices.

Net income fell to C$982 million ($754 million), or 80 Canadian cents per share, in the second quarter from C$1.07 billion, or 93 Canadian cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, the company earned C$1.04, which beat analysts’ average estimate of 81 Canadian cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Shares of the company were down 1.7 percent at C$46.62 in afternoon trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Reporting by Anirban Paul in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel and Anil D’Silva