Canadian Natural Resources Q1 profit comes in below estimates

Huge Caterpillar 797 dump trucks working at the CNRL (Canadian Natural Resources Limited) Horizon oil sands mine near Fort McMurray, Alberta. The Canadian Press Images/Larry MacDougal

Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. is reporting $245 million of net income for the first quarter, a big improvement from the loss it experienced at the same time last year but less than analysts expected.

The profit amounted to 22 cents per share for the Calgary-based oil and gas company.

READ MORE: Alberta oilsands growth outlook defies gloom

CNRL’s adjusted earnings were $277 million or 25 cents per share — two cents below analyst estimates.

Analysts had also estimated 34 cents per share of net income, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Revenue after royalty payments was above estimates at $3.64 billion, up from $2.18 billion in the first quarter of 2016 — when oil prices were near 13-year lows.

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In last year’s first quarter, Canadian Natural had a net loss of $105 million and adjusted loss of $543 million.

The company is active in the Alberta oilsands and elsewhere in Canada as well as the offshore fields in the U.K. North Sea.

In March, oilsands analyst Michael Dunn said energy companies have dramatically cut operating costs per barrel over the last two years while oil prices have been low, and although it seems counterintuitive, one of the best ways to do that is by producing more barrels.

That’s why CNRL is buying most of Royal Dutch Shell’s oilsands assets while continuing to grow production at its Horizon oilsands mining project, he said.

READ MORE: Canadian Natural buying Shell, Marathon Alberta oilsands holdings for $12.74B

Upon completion of the deal, Canadian Natural will take over from Shell as operator of the Athabasca mining assets, located east across the Muskeg River from its Horizon oilsands mine.

Shell would continue to operate the upgrader and Quest. It would retain 100 per cent ownership of the neighbouring Scotford refinery and chemicals plants.

Canadian Natural says as part of the agreements, it will welcome about 3,100 employees from Shell and Marathon Oil. About 2,760 of them work at the mines, 110 are at the Peace River in situ operations and 230 are based in Calgary.

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— With files from Dan Healing, The Canadian Press

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