Skip to main content

The Bow building, which houses Cenovus Energy, in downtown Calgary on Aug. 26, 2020.

Todd Korol/The Globe and Mail

Cenovus Energy Inc. plans to cut up to a quarter of its work force after it acquires Husky Energy Inc., in another major blow to Alberta’s oil patch.

The job losses could total around 2,150 positions, with the majority expected to be lost in Calgary. There were no details available on the timing of the cuts. Cenovus said details of the transition plan are still being worked out as the oil giants prepare to become one, likely in the first quarter of 2021.

“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,” Cenovus spokesperson Sonja Franklin told The Globe and Mail in an e-mail.

Story continues below advertisement

The move is yet another hit to a sector that has already shed thousands of jobs. Suncor Energy Inc. has announced plans to cut up to 2,000 workers over the next 18 months and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers estimates around 28,000 oil production jobs have been lost in 2020, thanks to the global drop in demand, and ensuing crash in oil prices, during the pandemic.

The province’s oil and gas sector was shedding jobs even before COVID-19. Companies such as Husky Energy Inc. and Perpetual Energy Inc. announced cuts last year, not long after the United Conservative government slashed corporate taxes in what it billed as a job creation exercise.

Cenovus revealed plans to acquire Husky and create Canada’s fourth-largest energy company on Sunday, as the firm copes with chronically low crude prices and investor pessimism about the industry’s fortunes. The $3.8-billion deal will offer a 21-per-cent premium on Husky’s recent share prices; Cenovus will also take on more than $6-billion in Husky debt.

Alberta Jobs, Economy and Innovation Minister Doug Schweitzer said Tuesday the global challenges facing the oil sector highlight the importance of redoubling his government’s efforts to diversify the province.

“My heart goes out to the workers that have been impacted in this,” he said.

With jobs in the oil sector continuing to evaporate, Mr. Schweitzer said the government is preparing a series of measures to help workers retrain. If a geologist wants to pivot to concentrate on data science, for example, the province wants to make sure “it’s a quick turnaround time to reposition them to a new job,” he said.

But that doesn’t mean Alberta is moving away from energy as it attempts to diversify.

Story continues below advertisement

“It’s still going to be a huge part of the foundation of our economy,” Mr. Schweitzer said.

Oil and gas has brought “immense” prosperity to Alberta and still employs thousands of people, he said, and the province intends to build on its “traditional economy” by leveraging opportunities in areas such as hydrogen production, carbon capture and storage, and methane-reduction measures.

To underscore his government’s plans, Mr. Schweitzer pointed to his Tuesday announcement that $50-million of funds gathered through Alberta’s carbon tax on large emitters will be used to partly fund projects to help improve industrial energy efficiency.

He said the cash would help Alberta become a stronger competitor in clean energy technologies, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the short and long term.

Your time is valuable. Have the Top Business Headlines newsletter conveniently delivered to your inbox in the morning or evening. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Tickers mentioned in this story
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies