(Graphic: Business Wire)

Cenovus Energy Inc. (TSX, NYSE: CVE) is pleased to announce a $3 million donation to the new Trades and Technology Complex at SAIT Polytechnic that will help to address the shortage of skilled labour in the oil and natural gas industry.

Cenovus’s gift will be used to help fund the overall expansion of the complex and allow SAIT to more than triple the number of power engineering graduates by 2016. A featured part of the complex is the Cenovus Energy Centre, which will open to students in September 2012. A portion of the funding will also support student scholarships.

“Over the next 10 years, our industry will face a skilled labour shortage and the centre will play a major role in addressing our long-term workforce requirements,” said John Brannan, Executive Vice-President & Chief Operating Officer and a member of the SAIT Board of Governors. “I’m very pleased that this donation will contribute to growing a skilled and vibrant workforce that can ultimately support our business.”

Power engineers are critical to Cenovus and the overall industry because they’re the people who operate and maintain plants and equipment. An increasing amount of oil sands production is coming from companies such as Cenovus, which drill wells, then inject steam to separate the oil from the sand and pump it to the surface. This shift to drilling in the oil sands is creating increased demand for power engineers. Cenovus expects to have a staff of about 7,000 people by 2021, up from 4,500 today, with most of these jobs anticipated to be in the field to support the company’s oil sands operations.

The Cenovus Energy Centre is one of three buildings that make up the $400 million Trades and Technology Complex – a 740,000-square-foot complex featuring state-of-the-art labs and classrooms. The complex will house the MacPhail School of Energy, the School of Construction and the School of Manufacturing and Automation.

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