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    Petro Canada Boasts Solid Returns

    Though down from last year, second-quarter numbers considered strong in an otherwise weak market.

    CALGARY -- Buoyed by strong upstream growth, Calgary-based Petro-Canada, one of the country's largest oil operators, reported second-quarter net earnings of $321 million. Though less than the nearly $400 million of a year ago, the results are impressive considering substantial profit losses reported by most major oil companies in North America.

    The Canadian retailer operates more than 300 Super Stop convenience stores in western Canada.

    "Petro-Canada has delivered exceptional upstream growth," said CEO Ron Brenneman. "Production in the quarter is double last year's level, largely due to the acquisition of Veba's oil and gas operations and the impact of Terra Nova. We are very pleased that the Veba transaction closed as planned. The new international team led by President Norm McIntyre in London is in place and the integration of our international operations is largely complete."

    Of the earnings, little less than one-quarter, $73 million, derived from downstream operations, a sizeable dropoff from the $111 million reported for the same period last year. Still, the company credited stable refinery operations and marketing margins for offsetting depressed refining profits.

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