UPDATE 2-CNRL swings to quarterly loss, cuts spending again

Thu Aug 6, 2015 1:44pm EDT
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(Adds comment by Alberta Premier Rachel Notley)

By Nia Williams and Mike De Souza

CALGARY, Alberta Aug 6 (Reuters) - Canadian Natural Resources Ltd, the country's largest independent petroleum producer, swung to a loss in the second quarter as low global oil prices continued to bite and the Canadian province of Alberta raised its corporate tax rate.

The company, which operates in Western Canada, the North Sea and offshore West Africa, also said on Thursday it has made further cuts to 2015 spending plans to help cope with the nearly 60 percent plunge in crude prices in the past year.

CNRL reduced its latest capital budget by C$245 million ($186.11 million) to C$5.5 billion. The company has now slashed its original 2015 budget of C$8.6 billion four times since it was announced last November.

The Calgary-based producer joins a slew of other Canadian companies that have been forced to clamp down on spending and defer new projects as low crude prices persist.

CNRL reported a net loss of C$405 million, or 37 Canadian cents per share, for the quarter, compared with a profit of C$1.07 billion, or 97 Canadian cents, a year earlier.

It said the loss was primarily due to a C$579 million charge related to Alberta's increased corporate tax rate, and warned higher taxes could dampen investment going forward.

"This charge effectively translates into lower future cash flows and therefore, lowers reinvestment in the business," said Corey Bieber, CNRL's chief financial officer.   Continued...