Cenovus bumps up caribou protection project with $32M investment

Canada’s Cenovus Energy (TSX, NYSE:CVE) will invest $32 million in a project that seeks to restore the habitat of declining caribou populations around its oil sands operations over the next 10 years.

Cenovus aims to replant forests in an area covering 3,900 square kilometres — more than 10 times what it accomplished through its early-stage work.

In the past 40 years, escalating industry activity in northeastern Alberta has left several openings in the boreal forest, making animals that live there more vulnerable to predators.

Over the course of the project, the Calgary-based oil sands producer expects to achieve a more than tenfold expansion of the caribou habitat restoration work it has already completed since 2008.

The plan comes on the heels of the Alberta government last week releasing a draft plan that calls for the protection of an additional 18,000 square kilometres of caribou habitat, bringing the province-wide total to 49,000 square kilometres.

As most oil sands producer Cenovus has been hit hard by soft oil prices and raging wildfires in the province.

Earlier this year the company said it would slash about 440 jobs on top of the about 1,300 workers it had to lay off in 2015 due to plummeting oil prices.

Crude has stabilized since, climbing above $50 per barrel last week, but has struggled to advance any further. On Tuesday, the Brent benchmark for international oil was down 56 cents at $49.79 a barrel.