CALGARY — Suncor Energy Inc. is making good on its promise to return cash to shareholders, announcing a 12.5 per cent increase to its dividend as it reports fourth-quarter income that beat analyst expectations.The company says it will raise its quarterly payouts to 36 cents per share, fulfilling CEO Steve Williams’ vow in November to increase dividends and share buybacks in 2018 as production rises from its new Fort Hills oilsands mine in northern Alberta and Hebron oil project off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador.Canada’s largest energy company by market capitalization reported operating earnings of $1.3 billion or 79 cents per share in the last three months of 2017, compared with $636 million or 38 cents a year ago, thanks to stronger oil prices, lower upstream exploration costs, better refinery utilization and higher refinery profit margins.Net earnings of $1.382 billion or 84 cents per share were up from $531 million or 32 cents in the year-earlier period.Funds from operations reached a quarterly record of $3.0 billion, versus $2.4 billion in the fourth quarter of 2016.Suncor said its Fort Hills project has cost $17.16 billion to bring to mechanical completion, slightly higher than an estimate of between $16.5 billion and $17 billion made a year ago.“With Fort Hills and Hebron both successfully commissioned and now producing oil, the safe and steady ramp-up of production is proceeding as planned,” Williams said in a statement.
Read: Catholic Church in Australia admits it has been slow to act on sex abuseMore: Irish priest being sued for alleged rape in USA THE CATHOLIC CHURCH’S watchdog has confirmed that it received an allegation of abuse last year. The complaint outlined an incident that allegedly took place in 2012.The notification underlines the need for constant vigilance, good safeguarding practice and prompt action, said CEO of the NBSCCCI Ian Elliot on the publication of the organisation’s annual report.The Board was notified of two allegations of abuse having taken place since 2000 but the vast majority of the 242 accusations received related to years between 1960 and 1990. Some dated as far back as 1940.Information about all 242 allegations, concerns and suspicions have been passed to the gardaí/PSNI and, where appropriate, the HSC/HSE. The number of convictions for serious offences remains low, with just 26 prosecutions out of a total of 723 allegations (involving 320 priests).The Board expects to complete its review of all of Ireland’s dioceses by the end of this year and hopes to make “substantial progress” by the end of 2014 on the remaining congregations and missionary unions.The NBSCCCI’s audits into five congregations revealed a higher incidence of abuse amongst those orders than in dioceses. During 2012, current practices in 10 dioceses and five religious congregations were examined.Elliot retires from the head of the organisation next month. His report recommends a comprehensive review of the board’s operations be undertaken by the sponsoring bodies.Download: The full annual report>