Vaccines, oil prices and Husky takeover boost Cenovus outlook, says CEO Alex Pourbaix

Cenovus chief executive Alex Pourbaix

The CEO of Cenovus Energy Inc. says he's optimistic that his oil and gas company's second consecutive online annual shareholders meeting webcast on Wednesday will be its last.

Alex Pourbaix says the global rollout of vaccines to counteract the COVID-19 pandemic gives him hope that next year's meeting will be held in person, with the possible addition of a simultaneous webcast for out-of-town investors.

In their first shareholders' meeting since Cenovus bought Husky Energy Inc., former Husky directors Canning Fok, Wayne Shaw, Frank Sixt and Eva Kwok were elected to Cenovus's 12-member board. They had been appointed earlier under terms of the acquisition.

In January 2020, Cenovus committed $50 million over five years to build up to 200 houses to help alleviate a severe housing shortage in six First Nation and Metis communities near its oilsands operations in northern Alberta.

In an update on Wednesday, Pourbaix said the program resulted in 12 new houses completed in 2020 and 38 more expected to be ready by the end of this year.

He said shareholders have much to celebrate, with Cenovus on the way to cutting net debt to $10 billion by year-end thanks to higher oil prices, along with the reinstatement of a dividend and a 96 per cent recovery in the share price between the October Husky acquisition announcement and the end of April.

“I think we can all agree that this past year has been one of unprecedented challenges for the world, for our industry and for Cenovus, and, yet, today I'm more optimistic about the future of the company than I have ever been,'' he said.

“Cenovus is a stronger, more resilient, integrated Canadian energy leader thanks to our combination with Husky Energy.''

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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