On Monday, Suncor reported record-breaking production of 831,000 boe/d for the fourth quarter of 2018.  The Calgary-based company also reported record quarterly crude throughput of 468,000 bbls/d. Suncor photo.

Suncor reports refinery utilization hit 101 per cent during Q4

In a Q4 2018 operations update released Monday, Suncor Energy highlighted total upstream production of 831,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boe/d), which is a quarterly production record and represents an increase of 12% from the third quarter of 2018.

This record-breaking quarter reflects the results of the significant investment developing Fort Hills, and Suncor’s ongoing operational excellence focus across its assets, particularly at the Syncrude joint venture.

Oil sands operations produced approximately 433,000 barrels per day (bbls/d) in the quarter.  Fort Hills produced 183,000 bbls/d for the quarter, approximately 100,000 bbls/d net to Suncor, representing 94% of nameplate capacity.  Syncrude production was 355,000 bbls/d for the quarter, 209,000 bbls/d net to Suncor, representing 101% of nameplate capacity, and reflecting a new quarterly production record.  Total production from Exploration & Production was 90,000 boe/d during the fourth quarter.

Refining and Marketing operations demonstrated solid reliability with average refinery utilization of 101% for record quarterly crude throughput of 468,000 bbls/d. Refined product demand remained strong during the quarter.

“Fort Hills successfully completed its production ramp up ahead of schedule with production exceeding our guidance of 90% utilization for the quarter,” said CEO Steve Williams.

“During the quarter we had strong operational performance across our mining and in situ assets with Syncrude producing at record volumes and solid performance from oil sands operations, reflecting our focus on safety and operational excellence. Our integrated strategy and continued focus on value-added businesses has positioned us to perform well through volatile market conditions.”

In early December the Alberta government announced an 8.75 per cent production curtailment program beginning January 1.  Suncor says it continues to work with the government and the Alberta Energy Regulator to “manage and mitigate the unintended consequences of the curtailment orders on Suncor’s business,” according to a production guidance released last month.

The company is expecting a 10 per cent production increase this year despite the curtailment program, with upstream output of 780,000 to 820,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boe/d), up from 730,000 boe/d in 2018.

Suncor’s capital investment program will range between $4.9 billion and $5.6 billion.

“As we look to 2019, the planned capital spend will include low capital intensity, high- return projects aimed at margin improvements, enhancing midstream logistics infrastructure and cost reduction initiatives to be implemented in the 2020 to 2023 timeframe,” Williams said in the December release.

“All of these projects and the corresponding value they represent are largely independent of market conditions and egress constraints, positioning us well to continue returning increasing free funds flow to shareholders through dividends and share buybacks and strengthening the balance sheet.”