Imperial Oilís earnings in the first quarter of 2013 were $798 million, down 21 percent or $217 million from the first quarter of 2012. Lower earnings were primarily attributable to the impacts of lower liquids realizations of $270 million, higher refinery and Syncrude maintenance effects of $165 million and higher Kearl production readiness expenditures. These factors were partially offset by lower royalties of $160 million and higher refining margins of $125 million. Gross oil-equivalent production was 284,000 barrels a day in the first quarter, slightly lower than the same period last year.
Imperial Oilís Cold Lake operation demonstrated continued improvement by achieving record production of 164,000 barrels a day at Canadaís largest in-situ oil sands project in the first quarter of 2013. Volume growth was achieved through higher reliability and strong reservoir performance.
The start-up of the first phase of Imperial Oilís Kearl oil sands project is imminent. Kearl represents one of Canadaís highest quality oil sands deposits, with 4.6 billion barrels of recoverable bitumen. Production of 110,000 barrels a day is expected later in 2013 and will continue for decades to come. Kearl is being developed using next generation technologies and innovations, which will improve environmental performance for oil sands mining.
Imperialís disciplined approach and long-term business strategy allow us to advance significant growth plans while also sustaining performance in our base business. We are several years into a decade-long plan to invest about $40 billion in growth projects. First quarter capital and exploration expenditures were $2,976 million, which included $1,608 million for Imperialís participation in the Celtic acquisition as well as investment in the Kearl expansion project and the Cold Lake Nabiye project.
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