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Cenovus targets 20 to 25% workforce reductions following Husky takeover

Click to play video 'More than 2,000 jobs could be lost in mega-merger of Cenovus and Husky' More than 2,000 jobs could be lost in mega-merger of Cenovus and Husky
WATCH: More than 2,000 jobs will likely be cut as Cenovus Energy and Husky Energy merge. Tomasia DaSilva looks at the impacts of the merger and what some are calling on the province to do – Oct 27, 2020

Cenovus Energy Inc. is aiming to cut as many as one in four jobs — potentially more than 2,000 workers — if it succeeds in its $3.8-billion friendly takeover of rival Husky Energy Inc.

In an email, Cenovus spokesman Reg Curren says it aims to trim between 20 and 25 per cent of the 8,600 employees and contractors currently working at the two companies.

That would equate to between 1,720 and 2,150 workers, with Curren adding most of the cuts are expected to take place in Calgary where both companies have headquarters.

Read more: Cenovus Energy shares plummet on news of its $3.8B deal to buy Husky Energy

Husky also confirmed the cuts to Global News.

“Our workforces have highly skilled employees and we will be thoughtful as we bring these capabilities and people together,” communications manager Kim Guttormson said in an email Tuesday. “As with any merger of this type, there will be overlap and there will be some difficult decisions as we work to create a combined organization best positioned for the future.

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“The estimate is that the reductions will be approximately 20 per cent to 25 per cent of the combined workforce, which is currently about 8,600 employees and contractors.

“The majority are expected to take place in Calgary, although there will be some in other areas as well. However there are many details still to be determined as part of the integration planning process and the transaction has not yet closed.”

Click to play video 'Cenovus to buy Husky Energy for $3.8B in shares; company will remain in Alberta' Cenovus to buy Husky Energy for $3.8B in shares; company will remain in Alberta
Cenovus to buy Husky Energy for $3.8B in shares; company will remain in Alberta – Oct 25, 2020

Read more: Husky asks for government investment while reviewing West White Rose project

Guttormson said Husky cancelled the 2021 West White Rose construction season after a review announced in September. The company is working with the provincial government on how the federal dollars for offshore can support the long-term success of White Rose and the offshore, including determining whether some scopes of work can proceed and help position the project for restart when commodity prices recover.

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In response to the pandemic’s impact on the market, Husky reduced its capital budget earlier this year, including suspending work on the Spruce Lake North thermal project in Saskatchewan.

It’s the latest blow to the Calgary-centred oilpatch after Suncor Energy Inc. announced three weeks ago it will cut as many as 1,930 jobs over 18 months to reduce total staff by 10 to 15 per cent.

Click to play video 'Suncor Energy says it will cut 10 to 15 per cent of its workforce over next 18 months' Suncor Energy says it will cut 10 to 15 per cent of its workforce over next 18 months
Suncor Energy says it will cut 10 to 15 per cent of its workforce over next 18 months – Oct 2, 2020

Job cuts are also expected in the Canadian operations of Royal Dutch Shell, which announced in September it would eliminate between 7,000 and 9,000 jobs worldwide by the end of 2022, and, to a lesser extent, from BP, which said in June it would cut around 10,000 jobs from its global workforce.

Read more: 4 downtown Calgary offices buildings empty as vacancy rate climbs: report

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The cuts could make worse Calgary’s downtown office vacancy rate, which climbed to 28.7 per cent as of the end of September from 27 per cent in June according to real estate firm CBRE.

Click to play video '4 downtown Calgary offices empty as vacancy rate climbs' 4 downtown Calgary offices empty as vacancy rate climbs
4 downtown Calgary offices empty as vacancy rate climbs – Oct 16, 2020

“As with any merger of this type, there will be overlap and there will be some difficult decisions as we work to create a combined organization best positioned for the future,” Curren said.

“The estimate is that the reductions will be approximately 20 to 25 per cent of the combined workforce, which is currently about 8,600 employees and contractors.”

Under the proposed all-stock transaction announced Sunday, Cenovus shareholders would own 61 per cent of the combined company and Husky shareholders would own 39 per cent.

— With files from Emily Mertz, Tomasia DaSilva, Global News

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