The Fort Hills CHP plant. One of the newly launched projects includes the construction of two similar plants at Suncor’s oil sands base plant. PHOTO: Suncor Energy Inc.

CALGARY – Suncor Energy Inc. CEO says he will not increase investments this year despite higher oil prices but instead promises to increase free cash flow for debt repayment and share buybacks.

The Calgary-based oil sands and refinery giant will not be pulling out after cutting operating costs by $ 1.3 billion, or 12 percent, from 2019 in 2020 and capital spending by US $ 1.9 billion from its original forecast midpoint -Dollar, or 33 percent, Mark Little told a conference call February 4th.

The savings pledge mirrors similar recent vows made by oil and rival Imperial Oil Ltd. and Cenovus Energy Inc., despite recent year-long highs in US reference oil prices.

However, Suncor has resumed construction on two CO2 emission reduction projects that were suspended in March last year when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out – a $ 1.4 billion project to install two cogeneration units Facilities at its oil sands base plant and a new $ 300 million wind turbine in southern Alberta.

“We have resumed construction of the CHP plant at the base plant and the Forty Mile wind project, which are already included in our current capital forecast,” said Little in the call, stating that both would offer shareholders “great added value” at the same time, reducing the reduction Company carbon intensity.

“Despite the raw material price outlook that is well above our planning basis for 2021, I can assure you that we will not increase our capital forecast for 2021 beyond the current range.”

Suncor has resulted in investments between $ 3.8 billion and $ 4.5 billion in 2021, while repaying debt between $ 1 and $ 1.5 billion and repurchasing stocks between $ 500 and $ 1 billion.

The company announced that it has sold its 26.69 percent interest in the producing Scottish offshore Golden Eagle project for $ 325 million and contingent payments of up to $ 50 million.

In a separate press release, UK-based EnQuest PLC said Thursday it was the buyer.

At the start of the conference call, little was silent to remember three contractors who had died in oil and mining accidents in the past two months and vowed to investigate the events to ensure they didn’t recur.

Suncor posted a net loss of $ 168 million on revenue of $ 6.6 billion in the fourth quarter, compared to a net loss of $ 2.34 billion on revenue of $ 9.6 billion for the same period in 2019 , whereby both groups of figures were strongly influenced by asset depreciation.

The company states that the current loss includes an after-tax provision for transportation of $ 142 million related to the recently canceled Keystone XL oil export pipeline project, which was offset by an unrealized after-tax foreign exchange gain of $ 539 million in US dollar denominated debt.

It also includes a $ 423 million write-off announced last month on its minority stake in the White Rose and West White Rose offshore oil projects off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador due to uncertainties about their future.

Suncor stock fell as much as $ 1.17, or five percent, trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange, and fell about half to $ 21.69 in the early afternoon. The 52-week high is at $ 41.06.

The decline came despite analyst reports that Suncor met or exceeded expectations for cost reductions and production, and attributed the financial failure to the unexpected one-time deployment of Keystone XL.

Suncor reported an oil and gas production of 769,200 barrels of oil equivalent per day after 778,200 boe / d in the same quarter of the previous year.

The refinery’s crude throughput was 438,000 barrels per day, up from 447,500 bpd in the previous year.