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Imperial Oil gets Q1 boost from higher production; refining throughput weighs

(Reuters) - Canada's Imperial Oil saw higher profit in its first quarter on as the integrated oil firm was helped by robust production but saw maintenance activities weighing on its throughput volumes.

Refining margins have eased from sky-high levels in 2022, when Russia's invasion of Ukraine disrupted crude supplies. Profits stabilized through last year on weaker economic activity and an increase in global refining capacity.

Throughput, the amount of petroleum product that moves through a refinery in a particular period, stood at 407,000 bpd, down from 417,000 bpd last year. It was also lower than the 415,000 bpd estimated by analysts, according to LSEG data, due to maintenance activities.

Refinery capacity utilization was 94%, lower than 96% in the first quarter of 2023.

Offsetting downstream performance, upstream production was 421,000 gross barrels of oil equivalent per day in the first quarter, up from 413,000 gross boepd last year.

Output was helped by the highest ever first-quarter production at its Kearl oil sands site, the company said.

Additionally, cash flow from operating activities also rose, to C$1.08 billion, from cash flow of C$821 million used last year in the same period.

RBC Capital Markets analysts said despite the mixed results, they continue to have a constructive stance towards Imperial Oil, to reflect its consistently solid operating performance and commitment to shareholder returns.

The company's net profit stood at C$1.2 billion, or C$2.23 per share in the quarter ended March 31. Analysts had expected a profit of C$2.03 per share.

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