A start on additions to oil production offshore Newfoundland topped the 2023 growth agenda prompting a 50% budget increase for 2023 by Calgary-based Cenovus Energy Inc.

cenovus portfolio map

Spending would jump to C$600-700 million ($450-525 million) in 2023 to begin work on a new platform and drilling, dubbed West White Rose, 180 miles east of Newfoundland’s capital, St. John’s.

“We’re pursuing strategic initiatives in 2023,” said CEO Alex Pourbaix in announcing the firm’s budget.

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For a total of C$3.2 billion ($2.4 billion), the West White Rose project is expected to start flowing oil beginning in 2026, raising output to 80,000 b/d by 2029 and extending the site’s life by replacing 16-year-old facilities.

A spring ownership shuffle, government aid and rising oil prices have revived West White Rose after it was shelved at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020.

Cenovus cut its ownership in the original White Rose field to 60% from nearly 73% and in the new wells to about 56% from slightly under 70%. Suncor Energy Inc. picked up the shares dropped by Cenovus. A Newfoundland government firm, Nalcor, has a 5% interest in the new wells.

Corporate spending is projected to grow to C$4-4.5 billion ($3-3.4 billion) in 2023 from the C$2.6-3 billion ($1.9-2.2 billion) expected this year. The 2023 total includes C$2.8 billion of capital to support current operations and C$1.2-1.7 billion ($900 million-1.3 billion) for asset improvements and growth, including West White Rose.

Cenovus estimated that oil production from its Alberta oilsands assets could average 582,000-642,000 b/d in 2023, up from 570,000-630,000 b/d this year. Added asset ownership in a Toledo, OH, refinery and the restart of a Superior, WI refinery are forecast to generate about a 28% year/year jump in heavy crude upgrading and oil refining volumes to 610,000-660,000 b/d.