Canadian Oil Sands Ltd. lowers guidance range for Syncrude mine again

CALGARY – Canadian Oil Sands Ltd. (TSX:COS), the largest owner of the Syncrude Canada Ltd. oilsands mine, is once again reducing its 2013 production target as unplanned outages and longer-than-expected maintenance downtime cut into its third-quarter results.

In its third guidance revision this year, the Calgary-based company is now expecting production from Syncrude, a large mine located north of Fort McMurray, Alta., to range between 97 million and 100 million barrels. In July, Canadian Oil Sands predicted a range of between 100 million and 104 million.

“It has been a particularly challenging year for Syncrude operations with maintenance issues in our extraction facilities and an extended coker turnaround in the third quarter,” CEO Marcel Coutu, who is set to retire in the new year, said on Wednesday.

“Syncrude is continuing to work through the implementation of reliability systems, and improving reliability remains ours and Syncrude’s main focus.”

Syncrude owns 37 per cent of Syncrude. Its other partners include Imperial Oil, Suncor, Chinese firms Sinopec and CNOOC, Mocal Energy and Murphy Energy.

The company’s net income for the third quarter was $246 million, or 51 cents per share — beating the average analyst estimate of 44 cents per share.

A year earlier, Canadian Oil Sands earned $336 million, or 69 cents per share.

Sales volumes dropped to 84,300 barrels per day compared to 113,300 during the same 2012 quarter.

A project to relocate mining equipment to another part of the Aurora North mine has been completed ahead of schedule and under budget — a feat Coutu called an “important milestone.”

“The remaining projects are also progressing well and tracking to plan. Healthy crude oil prices have facilitated funding of these major projects and our dividend while maintaining a very strong balance sheet, despite lower than expected production at Syncrude,” he said.

Canadian Oil Sands is keeping its quarterly dividend steady at 35 cents per share.