Canada's Cenovus Names Jon Mckenzie as New CEO, Posts Quarterly Profit

(Reuters) — Cenovus Energy named COO Jon McKenzie as its next president and chief executive on Thursday, as Canada's second-largest oil and gas producer swung to a fourth-quarter net profit from a loss last year.

McKenzie joined Cenovus as financial chief in 2018 when Cenovus acquired Husky Energy, where he held the same post for three years.

Outgoing CEO Alex Pourbaix will shift to the role of executive chair after the company's annual general meeting on April 26, and will dedicate time to working with the Pathways Alliance, a group of oil sands producers including Cenovus that are developing a carbon capture and storage project to cut emissions.

McKenzie said Cenovus's future strategy would look very similar to the one developed over the last five years by his predecessor. The company has focused on growing production 3-5% per year, paying down debt and returning value to shareholders.

"Both Alex and I have our fingerprints all over the corporate strategy and we developed this in partnership together with the rest of our leadership team," McKenzie said on an earnings call.

Calgary-based Cenovus reported a net profit of C$784 million, or 39 Canadian cents, for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with a loss of C$408 million, or 21 Canadian cents per share, a year earlier.

Global oil prices pulled back from a multi-year high in the quarter, but traded 9% higher than the year-ago level as Western sanctions against major energy producer Russia and a decision by OPEC+ to cut output tightened global supply.

Cenovus profits were also boosted by an increase in operating margins in its downstream refinery business.

Total upstream production reached 806,900 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boe/d), down from 825,300 boe/d a year earlier. Downstream production rose to 473,500 barrels per day (bbl/d) from 469,900 bbl/d last year.

Cenovus said it ramped up crude-by-rail operations in December after TC Energy's Keystone pipeline was temporarily shut down after a leak in rural Kansas.

The company loaded nine unit trains from its Bruderheim, Alberta, terminal to the U.S. Gulf Coast in December and January, but said that program has since ramped back down.

Cenovus shares were last down 1.8% at C$25.5 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

($1 = 1.3385 Canadian dollars)

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