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Cenovus hikes capex, production guidance for 2020

Cenovus Energy Inc. plans to spend between C$1.3 billion and C$1.5 billion in capital investments next year, surpassing this year's expected allocation of between C$1.1 billion and C$1.2 billion.

The spending increase is largely due to the deferral of sustaining capital in 2019 following the mandatory production curtailment in Alberta, according to a Dec. 10 news release.

Oil sands assets will get most of the allocation at between C$705 million and C$820 million, which includes a budget of between C$625 million and C$675 million for maintaining base production at its Foster Creek and Christina Lake oil sands operations.

The ramp-up of Christina Lake phase G, which has an approved capacity of 50,000 barrels of oil per day, is also covered by the allocation, as are plans to drill 12 oil sands wells in 2020.

Cenovus budgeted between C$285 million and C$330 million for refining and marketing next year.

The company will spend between C$160 million and C$190 million for technology and exploration, while it allocated between C$80 million and C$95 million for the Deep Basin.

Cenovus will seek to place projects in sanction-ready status for final investment decisions in the second half of 2020, but any final decisions will depend on improved market access.

President and CEO Alex Pourbaix said he expects the budget will help the company generate adjusted funds flow of more than C$3 billion in 2020.

Production for 2020 is expected to rise by 7% at a range of 472,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day to 496,000 boe/d, up from 2019's expected output of 440,000 boe/d to 464,000 boe/d.

The expected increase in production will be driven by the crude-by-rail program and the Alberta government's special production allowance, which enables oil companies to produce in excess of mandated curtailment levels if the barrels are transported using incremental crude-by-rail capacity.