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Canadian Natural to cut 2015 spending by one third

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Canadian Natural Resources (TSE:CNQ), Canada’s largest independent energy company, has cut its 2015 capital spending plan by nearly one third as a result of low oil prices. Shares dropped.

The company now plans to spend C$6.19 billion in 2015, 28 percent lower than its earlier forecast of C$8.6 billion, the Calgary, Alberta-based company said in a statement today.

The company said the capital reductions primarily relate to reduced drilling activity and related facility capital for North America and International conventional operations.

Crude oil prices have more than halved since June due to oversupply, OPEC's refusal to cut its output ceiling and weak demand from China and Europe. WTI for February delivery declined 3.5 percent to $46.69 a barrel at 9:01 a.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Canadian Natural said it will defer about C$470 million of spending for the Kirby oil sands project and reduce drilling at its North American and international conventional oil and gas operations.

However, the company said the budget for its Horizon oil sands project has been left intact and the company expects the reducing capital spending will allow it to continue its dividend without changes.

Canadian Natural also anticipates to continue to grow output compared with 2014 but at a slower pace – 7 percent, rather than the original target of 11 percent. Total annual production is forecast to 840,000 to 887,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) from 869,000 to 916,000 boepd.

Shares fell 3.7 percent to C$31.93 at 9:46 a.m. in Toronto.

Canadian Natural is the latest major Canadian energy producer to scale back its spending plans as a result of a dramatic decline in crude oil prices. Others that have made cuts include Crescent Point Energy (TSE:CPG), Canada's fourth-largest independent oil producer, Husky Energy (TSE:HSE), Cenovus Energy (TSE:CVE), Athabasca Oil  (TSE:ATH), Tourmaline Oil (TSE:TOU), and ARC Resources (TSE:ARX).

Quick facts: Canadian Natural Resources Limited

Price: 22.54 CAD

TSX:CNQ
Market: TSX
Market Cap: $26.62 billion
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