Oil giant Cenovus names Keystone champion as CEO
Alex Pourbaix, a driving force behind TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL pipeline, has been named chief executive officer at Cenovus Energy Inc., taking the reins as the company seeks to rebuild investor confidence following its $13.3-billion oilsands buy earlier this year.
Pourbaix replaces Brian Ferguson, who said earlier this year he planned to step down. Pourbaix spent 27 years at Calgary-based TransCanada, most recently as chief operating officer. He’ll take over the new role on Nov. 6 and join the board, according to a statement Monday.
The naming brings a lifelong pipelines executive to the head of one of Canada’s largest oil producers following the March acquisition from ConocoPhillips. Pourbaix was key in speaking on behalf of Keystone XL and winning American political approval. Still, his lack of production experience may give investors pause. Cenovus has plunged 39 per cent since the start of the year.
“Some investors may be surprised that Cenovus has appointed a CEO without direct upstream oil & gas (or in situ oilsands) experience,” Greg Pardy, an analyst at Royal Bank of Canada, wrote in a note.
Cenovus is in the midst of selling assets to help pay off debt it took on to fund the Conoco deal. It is targeting $4 billion to $5 billion in divestitures and is still marketing its Weyburn operation in Saskatchewan.
Alex Pourbaix has been named CEO of Cenovus Energy Inc.