Suncor tops profit estimates on strong refining margins

FILE PHOTO: The Suncor Energy logo is seen at the company's head office in Calgary

(Reuters) -Canada's Suncor Energy beat market estimates for third-quarter profit on Wednesday, helped by strong refining margins and higher sales volumes from its oil sands operations.

Demand for refined products remained stable during the quarter after the voluntary production cut from top OPEC+ oil producers Saudi Arabia and Russia.

The company's refinery utilization averaged 99%, higher than the 85% in the second quarter. Refinery throughput declined marginally to 463,200 barrels per day (bpd) compared with a year earlier.

Peer Cenovus Energy also reported a rise in its quarterly profit last week, helped by a jump in refinery throughput as operations at two major U.S. plants improved following extensive rebuilds.

Suncor's total upstream production fell to 690,500 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd), compared with 724,100 boepd a year earlier due to international asset divestments.

The company had sold its British oil and gas business to Norway Equinor earlier in March.

Its net production of synthetic crude, a processed form of raw and heavy bitumen, rose to 469,300 bpd, compared with 405,100 bpd a year ago, due to lower maintenance activities.

Suncor said its Terra Nova offshore site would return to service in the fourth quarter.

On an adjusted basis, the company earned C$1.52 per share in the quarter ended Sept. 30, compared with analysts' average estimate of C$1.36 per share, according to LSEG data.

The company reported a net profit of C$1.54 billion, compared with a year-ago loss of C$609 million when it was hit by impairment charges.

(Reporting by Mrinalika Roy and Sourasis Bose in Bengaluru; Editing by Shilpi Majumdar)