Imperial Oil cuts 2020 spend by 30%, to delay turnarounds amid demand hit

FILE PHOTO: An Esso gas station sign displays the price of fuel at 91.9 cents CAD ($0.72) per litre in Richmond Hill, Ontario, January 30, 2015. Canada's No. 2 integrated oil producer and refiner Imperial Oil Ltd said on Wednesday it is considering selling 475 company-owned Esso gas stations. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

(Reuters) - Canadian oil and gas producer Imperial Oil Ltd IMO.TO said on Tuesday it would cut its full-year capital spending by 30% or C$500 million ($351 million) and will delay maintenance work at its Syncrude oil sands facility to cushion the impact from lower fuel demand amid the coronavirus pandemic.

North American oil and gas companies are facing excess supply and weak demand. While crude oil prices have plunged to 18-year lows, top producers Saudi Arabia and Russia have pledged to pump full bore.

The company said it will now spend C$1.1 billion to C$1.2 billion for 2020, below its earlier forecast of C$1.6 billion to C$1.7 billion.

Imperial will also suspend its share repurchases, effective April 1, 2020.

The oil and gas producer also said it would reduce the scope of a planned second-quarter turnaround at its Sarnia facility and added it was assessing other planned shutdowns across its businesses.

Turnarounds or scheduled shutdowns, meant for plant maintenance, repairs and upgrades, often last several months.

Reporting by Shanti S Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.