01/05/2017 04:08 EST | Updated 01/06/2018 00:12 EST

Penn West boosts capital spending plans, announces two management departures

CALGARY — Penn West Petroleum Ltd. (TSX:PWT) is preparing to boost drilling activity and production output in 2017 with a $180-million capital budget — nearly double what it allocated last year.

The Calgary-based company spent much of 2016 selling assets and grappling with its debt amid low crude prices.

Its 2017 budget includes $160 million for exploration and development and $20 million for decommissioning expenses.

That compares with $80 million for exploration and development and $15 million for decommissioning in 2016.

It said Thursday that its 2017 plan calls for production in its key development areas to be 15 per cent higher by the fourth quarter, compared with the same period of 2016.

Penn West also announced a change in senior management, with the departures of chief financial officer David Dyck and senior vice-president for exploration and production, Gregg Gegunde.

David French, who has been Penn West's president and CEO since replacing David Roberts in October, said the departures "reflect a natural evolution of the company" as it evolves into a smaller company.

Penn West said its new chief financial officer is David Hendry, who has been vice-president of finance for two years.

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