BY Fraser Tennant
In what has been described as a “truly transformational event”, Canadian oil company Cenovus Energy Inc. has agreed to the £13.3bn acquisition of the 50 percent interest held by multinational energy corporation ConocoPhillips in the Foster Creek Christina Lake (FCCL) Partnership – the companies’ jointly owned oil sands venture operated by Cenovus.
Once complete, the transaction, which also includes the majority of ConocoPhillips’s western Canada Deep Basin gas assets, will immediately make Cenovus Canada’s largest thermal oil sands producer and one of the country’s largest oil and gas producers.
“This is a significant, win-win opportunity for ConocoPhillips and Cenovus,” said ConocoPhillips chairman and chief executive Ryan Lance. “ConocoPhillips Canada will now focus exclusively on our Surmont oil sands and the liquids-rich Blueberry-Montney unconventional asset. Cenovus will assume sole ownership of FCCL and assume operations in the Deep Basin assets. This is truly a transformational event for both companies.”
With operations and activities in 17 countries, $90bn of total assets and approximately 13,300 employees, ConocoPhillips is the world's largest independent exploration and production company based on production and proved reserves. The transaction is expected to make an immediate and significant impact on ConocoPhillip’s value proposition by allowing it to rapidly reduce debt to $20bn and double share repurchase authorisation to $6bn.
“This means we will not only accelerate, but exceed, the three-year plan we laid out in November 2016,” continued Mr Lance. “The transaction is accretive to our cash margins and lowers the average cost of supply of our portfolio, with no impact to our estimate of cash provided by operating activities at $50 per barrel Brent price. We will retain upside to future oil price increases through our equity stake in Cenovus and an uncapped, five-year contingent payment.”
With a continued focus on total shareholder return, Cenovus intends to consider the optimal level of its dividend once the company’s divestiture of non-core assets is substantially complete – taking into account future production growth, realised cost reductions and sustained margin improvements.
“This transformational acquisition allows us to take full control of our best-in-class oil sands projects and to add a second growth platform across the prolific Deep Basin that provides complementary short-cycle development opportunities,” said Brian Ferguson, president and chief executive of Cenovus. “The purchase of these assets is consistent with Cenovus’s existing strategy and core and I am confident this transaction will create substantial shareholder value for years to come.”