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Calgary-based Cenovus Energy reports $1.8B first quarter loss as oil prices plunge

Cenovus president and CEO Alex Pourbaix addresses the company's annual meeting in Calgary, Wednesday, April 25, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Cenovus Energy Inc. reported a $1.8-billion loss in its first quarter as oil prices fell due to a drop in demand as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and an oil price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia.

The oilsands producer says the loss amounted to $1.46 per diluted share for the quarter compared with a profit of $110 million or nine cents per diluted share in the first quarter of 2019.

On an operating basis, Cenovus says it lost nearly $1.2 billion or 97 cents per diluted share in the quarter compared with an operating profit of $69 million or six cents per share a year ago.

READ MORE: Cenovus spending cut expected to set trend as sector adjusts for oil prices

Cenovus has moved to protect itself from the downturn by slashing capital spending, suspending its dividend and rolling back salaries.

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The company says it is managing its production levels as market conditions change to optimize the value it receives for its products.

Cenovus says its oilsands production has been reduced by approximately 60,000 barrels per day, but that it has the flexibility to ramp up production when market conditions improve.