Oil driller weighs sale after Canadian crude collapse

By Austin Weinstein on 3/6/2019

NEW YORK (Bloomberg) -- Pengrowth Energy Corp. is considering selling itself as the driller moves to lighten its debt load following a collapse in Canadian oil prices that pummeled the nation’s energy industry.

The Calgary-based explorer is weighing a sale, merger or other business combination as part of a strategic review, which it said will look for ways to improve the company’s balance sheet and address upcoming debt maturities, the company said Wednesday in a statement. Shares fell as much as 29% to 51 Canadian cents (38 U.S. cents), the most on record.

Canadian crude’s growing discount in the fourth quarter to the U.S. benchmark “created an extremely cautious atmosphere in the financial markets,” CEO Pete Sametz said in the statement. The subsequent recovery in prices “is expected to be constructive for our first quarter results and refinancing and strategic initiatives.”

Canadian oil producers were battered by a historic collapse in the prices of the nation’s crude amid an onslaught of new production late in 2018. Western Canada Select, the regional benchmark, fell to a record low in November, prompting Alberta to institute output cuts. Prices have rebounded since, but a lack of pipeline capacity has kept Canadian supply trading at a discount to American barrels.

Pengrowth may have picked the wrong time to explore a sale, according to Jamie Kubik, an analyst at CIBC World Markets.

“We do see this being one of the more challenging environments for such a process, with no certainty on any given outcome,” Kubik wrote in a note to clients.

Pengrowth is also in talks to extend the maturity on its $330-million revolver due March 31, according to the statement. Perella Weinberg Partners LP and Tudor Pickering Holt & Co. are advising the driller.

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