* Earnings per unit C$0.35 vs C$0.09
* Distribution raised 43 percent to C$0.50/unit
* Units up 1 percent at C$31.50
CALGARY, Alberta, April 29 (Reuters) - Canadian Oil Sands Trust COS_u.TO, the largest partner in the Syncrude Canada Ltd oil sands project, said on Thursday its first-quarter profit jumped almost fourfold despite a drop in output as crude prices surged.
Canadian Oil Sands raised its quarterly cash distribution by 43 percent to 50 Canadian cents a unit, citing its expectation that crude prices will stay strong.
The trust earned C$167 million ($167 million), or 35 Canadian cents per unit, up from C$43 million, or 9 Canadian cents, in the first quarter of 2009.
It was expected to post a profit of 28 Canadian cents a unit, according the average analyst forecast compiled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Profit surged on oil prices that rose 86 percent from the first quarter of 2009 to average $78.37 a barrel.
Cash from operating activities, used to pay distributions to unitholders, rose 518 percent to C$309 million, or 64 Canadian cents a unit, from C$50 million, or 10 Canadian cents.
Canadian Oil Sands, which has a 37 percent stake in Syncrude, said its share of the oil sands project’s production averaged 99,000 barrels per day in the quarter, down 3.9 percent as planned and unplanned maintenance cut volumes.
Operating costs rose 2.1 percent to C$39.59 a barrel, also because of the maintenance, the trust said.
Canadian Oil Sands units were up 26 Canadian cents, or 1 percent, at C$31.50 on the Toronto Stock Exchange. ($1=$1 Canadian) (Reporting by Jeffrey Jones)