An M&A wave is heading for Canada’s oil sector: portfolio manager


The parade of Canadian energy companies tightening their spending belts to cope with a global oil price rout that shows little sign of abating will be followed by a wave of survival-driven M&A activity, according to one portfolio manager.

“A lot of the easy cuts have been made, and the next ones are going to be a lot more painful,” Greg Taylor of Toronto-based Purpose Investments told Yahoo Finance Canada on Monday. “I think many of these companies can’t survive on their own at these price levels.”

North American benchmark West Texas Intermediate (CL=F) dipped as low as US$28 on Monday, below the $30 level where observers, including Goldman Sachs, expect the commodity to trade for the next six months. Western Canadian Select fell to just below US$17.

Crescent Point Energy (CPG.TO)(CPG) became the latest exploration and production company to cut its capital spending and slash its payout to shareholders on Monday. The Calgary-based firm blamed “recent severe volatility in the near-term outlook for commodity prices.”

Its move follows similar actions by peers including ARC Resources (ARX.TO), Husky Energy (HSE.TO), and Cenovus Energy (CVE.TO)(CVE). Smaller Calgary-based energy players, such as Total Energy Services (TOT.TO), have also cut budgets and dividends.

“They have no choice but to find economies of scale. One of the few ways we could to that is to do a bunch of two, three, and even four-way mergers. That might be needed to help companies get through to the other side of this,” Taylor said.

“You have to wonder if these price actions are going to speed this up.”