Cenovus cutting 15% of staff, suspends salary increases

Energy producer announces $472 million loss for the quarter that ended Dec. 31.

CALGARY — Cenovus Energy Inc. says it expects to cut its staff by about 15%, the bulk of which it says will come from its contract workforce.

The company also suspended employee salary increases for this year as it looks to cut its discretionary spending on travel, conferences, offsite meetings and information technology upgrades.

Cenovus announced the moves as announced a loss of $472 million for the quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with a loss of $58 million a year ago.

Sales for the quarter totalled $4.34 billion, down from $4.83 billion.

The loss for the quarter included a $497-million charge related to its Pelican Lake project due to the drop in oil prices and a slowing of the development plan for the project.

Cenovus said with low oil prices expected to persist through 2015 it will focus on expansion projects at its Foster Creek and Christina Lake operations that are already well advanced.

“We ended 2014 in a solid financial position with approximately $900 million in cash and cash equivalents on our balance sheet and debt ratios well within our target ranges,” Cenovus chief executive Brian Ferguson said in a statement.

“In the current challenging oil price environment, we’re reducing capital spending in order to help preserve our financial resilience. As well, we have additional flexibility to further reduce capital spending if oil prices continue to fall or remain low for an extended period.”

Last month, Cenovus cut its 2015 capital budget by $700 million to $1.8 billion and $2 billion as it braced for a prolonged stretch of low oil prices.

© 2015 The Canadian Press

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