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Nov 1, 2018

Canadian Natural vows to shield shareholders from industry woes

Oil giants weigh in on pipeline delays, Canadian oil discount

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The president of Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (CNQ.TO) is pledging to do what it takes to help shield his company’s shareholders from weak oil prices and other issues plaguing Canada’s energy sector.

“In light of current market conditions driven by market access restrictions, lack of fiscal competitiveness and regulatory uncertainties, the company will exercise its capital flexibility and allocate capital to those areas that maximize shareholder value,” Tim McKay said in a release Thursday showing Canadian Natural Resources’ profit soared in the third quarter.  

Alberta’s oil patch is wrestling with the burden of a hefty discount on Western Canada Select prices, which stood at US$43.00 per barrel as of Oct. 31, not too far off the record US$50 gap that existed earlier in October.

Canadian Natural noted in its quarterly report that it reined in heavy oil production in the third quarter to mitigate the impact of the price discount, and said more production curtailments are in store for November and December. The company also said it drilled 63 fewer wells in the third quarter.

“Canadian Natural will continue to make strategic decisions to reduce drilling activity, delay well completions and shut in production,” McKay said. “The effectiveness of our strategies, combined with our ability to execute on these strategies, allows us to be nimble, capture opportunities and be more sustainable through these challenges.”

The oil and gas producer’s profit amounted to $1.47 per diluted share for the quarter ended Sept. 30, compared with 56 cents per diluted share a year ago.

Revenue totalled nearly $5.9 billion, up from $4.47 billion in the same quarter last year.

Production in the quarter amounted to 1,060,629 barrels of oil equivalent per day, up from 1,036,499 a year ago.

On an adjusted basis, Canadian Natural says it earned $1.11 per diluted share for the quarter, up from an adjusted profit of 19 cents per diluted share in the third quarter of 2017.

Analysts on average had expected a profit of 90 cents per share for the quarter, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.

"The strength of our well-balanced and diverse portfolio, combined with Canadian Natural's ability to effectively and efficiently execute, delivered a strong third quarter for the company," Steve Laut, Canadian Natural's executive vice-chairman, said in a statement.

With files from The Canadian Press