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CALGARY — Suncor Energy Inc. is reporting third-quarter operating income of $1.56 billion, an 80 per cent increase over $867 million in the same period of 2017.

The earnings amount to 96 cents per share, in line with analyst expectations of 95 cents according to Thomson Reuters Eikon, but well ahead of 52 cents in the third quarter of 2017.

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Suncor attributes the increase to higher crude oil prices and refinery margins, along with new production from its Fort Hills oilsands mine in Alberta and offshore East Coast Hebron project.

The Calgary-based company says record quarterly production from its legacy oilsands facilities helped take total upstream production to 743,800 barrels of oil equivalent per day in the three months ended Sept. 30, compared with 739,900 boe/d in the year-earlier quarter.

Suncor says its share of Syncrude synthetic crude production fell by a third to 106,200 barrels per day due to a power disruption in June that sidelined the oilsands mine and upgrader for part of the third quarter, offset by the additional five per cent working interest Suncor acquired earlier this year.

Refining and marketing division funds from operations rose to a record $1.1 billion, with crude throughput of 457,200 bpd representing a 99 per cent utilization rate, Suncor reported.

"Our downstream integration and favourable market access position continue to significantly mitigate the impact of wider crude differentials at oilsands," said CEO Steve Williams in a statement.

"This helped generate significant discretionary free funds flow, which we returned to investors through close to $900 million in share repurchases while also reducing our debt by $1.2 billion."

Net earnings rose 40 per cent to $1.81 billion or $1.12 per common share, compared with $1.29 billion or 78 cents per share a year earlier.

The profit included a $60-million after-tax gain on the sale of its interest in the Joslyn Oil Sands mining project and a $195 million unrealized after-tax foreign exchange gain on the revaluation of U.S. dollar denominated debt.

Companies mentioned in this article: (TSX:SU)

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