Husky’s oil output and refining volumes ramp up as economy recovers

Oil production and refining volumes at Husky Energy Inc. are gradually returning to normal after deep cutbacks earlier this year but the company is braced for a “bumpy” recovery, CEO Rob Peabody said Thursday.

The Calgary-based energy producer and refiner reported having curtailed about 80,000 bbls/d of mainly heavy oil output at the start of the second quarter as COVID-19-related shutdowns hit refined product demand, leading to lower utilization rates at its refineries.

It now has about 30,000 bbls/d of oil off-line but plans to bring it back as market conditions allow, Peabody said on a conference call.

“We are being cautious not to outstrip physical demand and continue to pace our throughput with our product liftings,” he said.

“We expect the path forward to be bumpy, and we'll continue to respond rapidly.”

Husky has the flexibility to reduce capital spending to between $1.2 billion and $1.4 billion in 2021 from between $1.6 billion and $1.8 billion this year, while maintaining its production base and refining capacity, Peabody said.

Its 2020 capital budget had originally been set at $3.3 billion in December but was reduced through measures including delaying construction of the offshore West White Rose Project off Newfoundland.

Husky, controlled by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-Shing, owns a refinery in Lima, Ohio, and is a 50-50 partner with BP in a refinery in Toledo, Ohio.

Those operations were about 60 per cent utilized in April and May, said Jeff Rinker, executive vice-president of downstream for Husky, but have bounced back since to between 80 and 90 per cent utilization.

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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