October 22, 2008 / 5:45 PM / in 9 years

Suncor to reveal capital plans to uncertain market

CALGARY, Alberta, Oct 22 (Reuters) - Canadian oil sands producer Suncor Energy Inc (SU.TO) said it plans to talk about its 2009 capital spending plans on Thursday, as the credit crisis and falling crude prices have analysts wondering if it will be able to pay for its massive expansion plans.

The company, Canada’s No. 2 oil sands producers, said on Wednesday that Chief Executive Rick George will hold a conference call with investors to discuss its capital plans for next year.

Earlier this year Suncor unveiled a C$20.6 billion ($16.5 billion) plan to make it Canada’s biggest oil sands producer, raising capacity by 200,000 barrels a day to 550,000 bpd by 2012.

Despite rampant cost inflation for construction projects in the red-hot oil sands region, Suncor’s plans for its Voyageur project were considered sound while oil prices were climbing to record highs.

However the credit crisis and retreating petroleum prices have raised doubts about Suncor’s ability to pay for the project, and some analysts have said the company may decide to slow construction.

“If oil prices stay where they are, Suncor will be challenged with respect to funding” its project, said William Lacey, an analyst at FirstEnergy Capital.

“Access to capital is down and there is some caution right now on how to push forward in this environment. It wouldn’t surprise me if they slow down the project a little bit.”

Suncor shares were down C$3.04, or 10.5 percent, at C$25.79 by early afternoon on Wednesday, near three-year lows and well off their 52-week high of C$73.10 set in May. ($1=$1.25 Canadian) (Reporting by Scott Haggett; editing by Rob Wilson)

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