October 28, 2009 / 6:57 PM / 9 years ago

Opti shares drop 13 pct on slow oil sands ramp up

* Shares down 11 percent midafternoon

CALGARY, Alberta, Oct 28 (Reuters) - Shares in Opti Canada Inc OPC.TO, which holds a 35 percent stake in Nexen Inc’s NXY.TO Long Lake oil sands project, dropped as much as 13 percent on Wednesday after it said the project would reach peak production later than anticipated.

Shares in Opti, whose sole asset is its interest in the Long Lake project, fell 27 cents, or 11 percent, to C$2.18 by midafternoon on the Toronto Stock Exchange, after earlier touching C$2.13. Volume was 3.2 million shares, close to the average over the past three months.

In its third-quarter earnings release on Wednesday, Opti said the Long Lake project had recovered from a month-long unscheduled shutdown that wrapped up earlier in October. It also said bitumen production had rebounded to between 10,000 and 12,000 barrels a day, about where it had been before the temporary closure.

But Opti said output at Long Lake, which has been slow to boost production, is unlikely to reach its peak of 60,000 barrels of refinery-ready synthetic crude on schedule.

“We now expect that the project will be at or near design rates later than our previous guidance of late 2010,” Opti said in a statement.

Nexen, which operates the facility, said on Wednesday it hopes to be able to speed up the growth of bitumen production from Long Lake but did not detail a time line for reaching peak output.

Opti said it earned C$12 million in the third quarter, after a year-earlier loss of C$32 million. Revenue fell 70 percent to C$125 million.

$1=$1.08 Canadian Reporting by Scott Haggett; editing by Rob Wilson

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