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CALGARY, Alberta, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Suncor Energy Inc , Canada's largest oil and gas company, reported a larger-than-expected fourth-quarter profit on Wednesday as a result of higher global crude prices and improved reliability at the Syncrude oil sands project.
The company reported net earnings of C$531 million or 32 Canadian cents per share. In the year-prior quarter, Suncor recorded a net loss of C$2 billion, or C$1.38 a share, because of non-cash impairment charges and an unrealised foreign exchange loss of U.S. dollar-denominated debt.
Suncor's fourth-quarter operating profit, which excludes one-time items, was C$636 million, or 38 Canadian cents per share, versus a loss of C$26 million, or 2 Canadian cents per share, in the year-ago period.
Analysts had predicted earnings of 29 Canadian cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Calgary-based Suncor is the biggest producer in Canada's oil sands and the majority owner of the Syncrude project. The company also has operations offshore Atlantic Canada and in the North Sea.
The company produced a record 738,500 barrels of oil equivalent per day in the fourth quarter, up from 582,900 boepd in the same period of 2015, due mainly to acquiring a majority share in Syncrude.
Refinery throughput was 427,300 barrels per day in the final quarter of 2016, down slightly from 430,200 bpd in the same period a year earlier. (Reporting by Nia Williams; Editing by Bill Rigby)