Cenovus slashes dividend, cuts jobs to counter oil price slump

Announces 300 more job cuts just months after cutting 15 per cent of workforce

(Reuters) — Cenovus Energy, Canada's No. 2 independent oil producer, slashed its quarterly dividend by 40 per cent and said it would cut about 300 more jobs as it tries to keep a lid on costs amidst a slump in oil prices.

The job cuts come months after the company announced a reduction of 800 jobs, or 15 per cent of its workforce.

The company also said it was increasing its cost-cutting target for the year by 40 per cent to $280 million.

Crude oil prices have plunged by about 55 per cent in the past year, forcing a number of producers to cut jobs and lower their spending.

Cenovus currently has two producing projects in the oil sands — Christina Lake and Foster Creek — both of which are 50 per cent owned by ConocoPhillips.

The primary focus is now on expanding existing oil sands projects, but at a more moderate pace of growth than in the past, Cenovus said on Thursday.

Cenovus's cash flow, a key measure of its ability to fund new projects, dropped 60 per cent to $477 million.

The company slashed its quarterly dividend to 16 cents per share from 26.62 cents.

Net income fell to $126 million, or 15 cents per share, in the second quarter ended June 30, from $615 million, or 81 cents per share, a year earlier.

Operating profit, which excludes one-time items, fell 68.1 per cent to $151 million, or 18 cents per share.

However, it beat the average analyst estimate of nine cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S, helped by a 30 per cent fall in oil sands operating expenses.

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