CALGARY – The president of Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (TSX:CNQ) says any solution to a prolonged bitumen spill at the company’s Primrose oilsands site will have to address all potential causes.
Steve Laut says all the data the company has collected so far points to faulty old wellbores as the cause, but he says CNRL is “open” to other possibilities.
He says the company has almost completed a review into the root cause of the leaks discovered about a year ago in four separate locations.
Once it’s finished, the work will be handed over to the Alberta Energy Regulator’s technical experts.
Also Thursday, CNRL said it virtually tripled its year-over-year net earnings in the first quarter.
The Calgary-based oil and natural gas producer reported after markets closed that net income in the quarter totalled $622 million or 57 cents per share compared with $213 million or 19 cents in the prior-year period.
Revenue for the three months ended March 31 rose to almost $4.4 billion from $3.76 billion in the prior-year period.
“Canadian Natural had a solid start to the year, with consistent organic growth in North America production as expected,” Laut said in the company’s earnings release, adding that North America E&P, crude oil and NGLs production had grown by five per cent over the previous quarter.
Laut added that as a result of recent acquisitions and ongoing development opportunities, the company’s 2014 development capital budget has been raised by $425 million and its 2014 annual production guidance has also been increased.
The midpoint of crude oil and NGLs (natural gas liquids) production has been raised by three per cent or 15,000 barrels a day, while the midpoint of natural gas production has been increased by 30 per cent or 360 million cubic feet per day, he said.