Capital investment activities in the first quarter of 2013 were focused on the Golden Eagle Area Development (Golden Eagle) and Hebron projects, the advancement of several extension projects in existing operating areas, including Hibernia and White Rose, and ongoing exploration and development drilling.
At Golden Eagle, construction of topsides and platform jackets continued; the project is expected to achieve first oil in late 2014 or early 2015. Detailed engineering and construction of the gravity-based structure for the Hebron project continued in the first quarter of 2013; the project is expected to achieve first oil in 2017. Detailed engineering and procurement activities continued for the Hibernia Southern Extension and the South White Rose Extension projects, while plans for further development in these areas are currently underway.
In the first quarter of 2013, Suncor completed negotiations with the National Oil Company in Libya regarding its exploration commitments under its Exploration and Production Sharing Agreements. As a result, the company has received an extension to reflect the time that Suncor was in force majeure due to political unrest and unable to fulfil its exploration commitments. The 2013 exploration drilling program is currently underway and the company has resumed drilling at one exploration well during the first quarter of 2013.
Suncor has revised the components of the corporate guidance that it previously issued in December 2012, as amended on February 5, 2013. The key changes to the company's corporate guidance include:
-- An explanatory note describing the impact of the proposed sale of the majority of Suncor's natural gas business in Western Canada, which is expected to result in a revised North America Onshore production outlook of 30,000 to 35,000 boe/d for 2013 and revised 2013 Total Production outlook of 559,000 to 609,000 boe/d, assuming the transaction closes in the third quarter of 2013.-- The range for current income taxes has been adjusted from $1.300 billion to $1.500 billion to $1.500 billion to $1.700 billion due to higher than anticipated Brent benchmark prices in the first quarter of 2013, resulting in a higher estimate of current tax expense in the company's International operations.-- A decrease in the range for capitalized interest to $350 million to $450 million from $450 million to $550 million, to reflect less eligible capital projects as a result of not proceeding with the Voyageur upgrader project.
Suncor's 2013 complete corporate guidance is available at www.suncor.com/guidance .
Normal Course Issuer Bid Amendment
Subsequent to the first quarter of 2013, the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) accepted an amendment to Suncor's previously announced normal course issuer bid (the NCIB), authorizing the purchase for cancellation of up to an additional $2 billion worth of its common shares, commencing May 2, 2013 and ending September 19, 2013, through the facilities of the TSX, New York Stock Exchange and/or alternative trading platforms. The actual number of common shares that will be repurchased under the NCIB, and the timing of such purchases, will be determined by the company. The company may seek approval to complete the program at a later date if it does not complete the full $2 billion repurchase under the dates of its existing NCIB approval. Suncor has completed the purchase of $1 billion of its common shares under the NCIB. Between April 26, 2012 and April 26, 2013, Suncor purchased 55,109,900 of its common shares for $1,693 million pursuant to normal course issuer bids.