A little more than four years after announcing a blockbuster $17.7-billion asset sale agreement with Cenovus Energy Inc., ConocoPhillips is preparing to cash out of the Canadian oil producer.

In a release Tuesday, ConocoPhillips disclosed its intent to begin paring its 10 per cent stake in Cenovus during the second quarter of this year in open market transactions. Conoco said it expects to complete the process by the fourth quarter of 2022 and indicated proceeds from the divestment will help finance repurchases of its own shares.

“The sales pace will be guided by market conditions with ConocoPhillips retaining discretion to adjust accordingly,” Conoco said in its release.

Shares of Cenovus have more than doubled over the last year, but are still trading almost 50 per cent below where they closed on March 29, 2017 when the asset purchase agreement with ConocoPhillips was announced.

“We understand ConocoPhillips has said it will exit its Cenovus shares over the next seven quarters,” said Cenovus Spokesperson Reg Curren via email. “We remain focused on integrating the assets acquired in the Husky transaction, and continuing to strengthen our balance sheet.”