December 9, 2014 / 8:04 PM / in 3 years

Baytex Energy becomes latest Canadian producer to cut 2015 spending

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Baytex Energy Corp (BTE.TO) became the latest Canadian oil producer to slash its capital budget and dividend on Tuesday, as industry players braced for even more companies to scale back spending.

Oil sands producer Baytex, which also operates in the Eagle Ford shale play in Texas, said it will spend C$575 to C$650 million in 2015, 30 percent less than originally expected, and reduce monthly dividend payments to 10 cents per share from 24 cents.

Approximately 75 percent of capital spending will be invested in Eagle Ford assets, acquired earlier this year at a hefty premium.

“Given the recent collapse in world oil prices, we believe our 2015 budget strikes the right balance between preserving our operational momentum in delivering organic production growth and managing our dividends prudently to maintain strong levels of financial liquidity,” said Baytex Chief Executive James Bowzer.

Baytex’s moves mirror tighter budgets announced by other companies headquartered in Canada’s oil capital Calgary as global oil prices nosedive. Benchmark U.S. crude CLc1 last traded at $63.76 a barrel, down from $107 a barrel in June.

On Monday Trilogy Energy Corp TET.TO scrapped its monthly divided and cut 2015 capital spending by 38 percent, while Vermilion Energy Inc (VET.TO) reduced next year’s budget by 22 percent to $525 million.

Precision Drilling Corp PD.TO said it expected 2015 capital spending to be 44 percent lower than this year, and last week Canadian Oil Sands Ltd COS.TO, the largest owner of the Syncrude Canada Ltd oil sands project, reduced its quarterly dividend by 43 percent and capital budget by nearly half.

Michael Gosselin, head of investment banking in energy and commodities Canada for BNP Paribas, said hefty spending reductions should be expected given the extent of the oil price slide.

“I can guarantee you that everybody in this town right now is working on their cap ex (capital expenditure) budgets for 2015,” Gosselin said. “Oil prices are off 40 percent over the last four months so a 25 percent or 20 percent cut in cap ex one could say is maybe moderate.”

Oil sands giant Cenovus Energy Inc (CVE.TO) , Canada’s No.2 independent oil producer, is scheduled to release its 2015 capital spending plan on Thursday, a budget that will be closely watched by others in the energy industry.

Cenovus spokesman Reg Curren declined to comment on budget plans ahead of the release.

Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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