Gold in the Sands
25 January 2006
|Two haul trucks empty their load of oil sand into the top of a double roll crusher in the Syncrude project. Photo: Syncrude.|
Companies participating in Canada’s oil-sands boom just turned in some hefty financial results.
Annual profits at Canadian Oil Sands Trust (COST) jumped 63 per cent to C$831 million and cash flow topped the C$1 billion mark in 2005. COST is the largest owner in the Syncrude joint venture.
The Syncrude Project is a joint venture undertaking among Canadian Oil Sands Limited Partnership, Canadian Oil Sands Limited, Conoco Phillips Oilsands Partnership II, Imperial Oil Resources, Mocal Energy Limited, Murphy Oil Company Ltd., Nexen Oil Sands Partnership, and Petro-Canada Oil and Gas, as the project owners, and Syncrude Canada Ltd. as the project operator.
The strong earnings came despite the fact that Syncrude’s yearly production fell 10% from 2004 levels to 78.1 million barrels due to major turnaround and repair work that took longer than expected.
Canadian Oil Sands also reported that per barrel operating costs climbed 36% to an average of C$26.34 per barrel, reflecting the year’s lower production levels, more expensive repairs and a higher cost of energy required to turn the oil sands into synthetic crude.
Shell Canada Ltd., a Canadian oil company controlled by Royal Dutch Shell, said fourth-quarter net income more than tripled on higher fuel prices and increased output from its Alberta oil-sands project.
Higher oil-sands production and prices boosted the company’s oil-sands earnings to C$196 million, up from C$13 million a year earlier when maintenance work reduced output and increased costs. Operating costs in Q4 2005 dropped 29% to C$23.87 a barrel.
Shell Canada’s share of the output from the Athabasca Oil Sands Project increased 62% in the quarter to 106,800 barrels a day. The synthetic oil produced from the bitumen at Shell’s Edmonton, Alberta, refinery sold for $56.99 a barrel, up 28% from a year earlier.
The Athabasca development, in which Shell Canada has a 60 percent stake, had total output of about 178,000 barrels a day in the quarter, up from 109,800 barrels a day in the year-earlier period. Other project owners each having a 20% stake are Chevron and Calgary-based Western Oil Sands Inc.
Shell Canada and partners in the oil-sands joint venture said last August they would spend C$7.3 billion to expand by 2010 the project’s production and refining capacity to 280,000 barrels a day.
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