UPDATE 3-Cenovus posts 1st qtr loss, seeks regulatory clarity from Ottawa

Wed Apr 27, 2016 1:34pm EDT
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* Q1 operating loss of C$0.51 vs. estimates of C$0.40

* Cash flow drops 95 pct, hurt by oil price slide

* Cuts 2016 capital budget by C$300 mln (Adds CEO comments, financial details, company and industry background)

By Nia Williams

CALGARY, Alberta, April 27 (Reuters) - Cenovus Energy Inc said on Wednesday it needs more clarity from the Canadian government on pipeline and environmental issues before possibly reactivating oil sands projects that have been deferred because of the crude price rout.

Speaking on a conference call after Cenovus reported a first-quarter net loss and slump in cash flow, Chief Executive Brian Ferguson said he was looking for more than a price signal before giving the green light to deferred projects.

"The other piece of the equation here that I am watching carefully is for fiscal and regulatory clarity out of Ottawa. I expect to see that in the next few months," Ferguson said.

He said areas that needed clarification were discussions around the pipeline review process by the National Energy Board, the four working groups looking at climate policy and any potential changes around income tax rules.

Cenovus has postponed its Narrows Lake oil sands project as well as further expansions at its Foster Creek and Christina Lake plants since global crude prices started spiralling downward in mid-2014.   Continued...