10/10/2013 01:12 EDT | Updated 12/10/2013 05:12 EST

Canadian Natural Resources shares rise on positive third-quarter outlook

CALGARY - Shares in Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (TSX:CNQ) climbed more than four per cent after the oil and gas giant provided a sneak preview at its third-quarter results and reported good progress on its Horizon oilsands expansion.

Shares in the company rose as high as $33.46 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Thursday afternoon. By late afternoon, the stock was up 4.3 per cent at $33.42.

Canadian Natural said its cash flow from operations during the quarter came in at about $2.21 per share — better than the $1.94 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had on average been expecting.

The result did not include about $170 million of after-tax gains from oil and gas property sales completed during the quarter.

The company also said it achieved record quarterly production of 701,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.

Production from its flagship Horizon oilsands mine north of Fort McMurray, Alta., was 111,900 barrels of synthetic crude oil per day.

The company is expecting volumes to average between 110,000 and 115,000 barrels per day for the final three months of the year.

Canadian Natural reports its full third-quarter results on Nov. 7.

Canadian Natural has a series of projects underway to increase production at Horizon to 250,000 barrels per day. That work is about 30 per cent complete, with costs so far coming in slightly below budget.

"The major expansion milestones achieved at Horizon are a big step in delivering on a project that will provide significant value to our shareholders for decades to come, " said company president Steve Laut.

The company did not provide an update on the status of its Primrose heavy oil operations in eastern Alberta, where an emulsion of bitumen and water has been seeping to the surface for months.

The company has blamed faulty well bores for the leaks, but the Alberta Energy Regulator has not yet determined a cause.