The current crude oil price weakness has significantly reduced the expected returns from our 2020 capital program and, therefore, we have immediately reduced our capital spending in order to protect shareholder value. We are electing to reduce our 2020 capital program to $200 – $210 million from $350 – $370 million previously, a reduction of approximately $160 million or 44%. The lower capital investment will be restricted to asset integrity, health and safety programs in addition to our CO2 purchases at our carbon sequestration project in Weyburn, Saskatchewan, until the commodity price outlook improves. With our first quarter capital program completed we now expect to only spend $5 – $7 million per month for the remainder of the year for a total capital budget of $200 to $210 million in 2020. While this decision is expected to result in lower production than originally forecast, the capital reduction allows for greater financial flexibility to maintain our balance sheet strength. Whitecap’s average production in 2020 is now expected to be 67,000 – 68,000 boe/d compared to 71,000 – 72,000 boe/d previously, a decrease of 6%.
Additionally, Whitecap’s board of directors has approved a reduction to the Company’s monthly dividend per share from Canadian $0.0285 to $0.01425, effective for the April dividend payable in May 2020. The Company will use the $70 million of cash retained annually from the dividend reduction to further strengthen our financial position. The cash dividend of Canadian $0.0285 per common share in respect of March operations will be paid on April 15, 2020 to shareholders of record on March 31, 2020. The dividend is an eligible dividend for the purposes of the Income Tax Act (Canada). Return of capital to shareholders continues to be a priority for us and an important component of our total return strategy. Whitecap maintains a strong balance sheet, ending 2019 with approximately $580 million of liquidity and no near-term debt maturities through 2022. Our debt to earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (“EBITDA”) ratio was 1.6x at the end of 2019 and is expected to remain well below our debt covenant of 4.0x, which positions us well in the current market environment.
The Company’s strong hedge portfolio also enhances our strong financial position. Whitecap has approximately 44% of our estimated crude oil production protected for 2020 at an average floor price of $65.18 per barrel in Canadian dollars. The Company’s hedge position is composed of swaps and costless collars. Using current strip pricing, our hedging gains in 2020 are estimated to be $130 million.
Whitecap is committed to taking decisive actions to protect our balance sheet, preserve liquidity and retain long term value for our shareholders. With the revised capital program and dividend, Whitecap is fully funded in a low US$30 per barrel WTI crude oil price for the remainder of 2020. We have a premium asset base with low production declines and strong funds flow netbacks. Our high quality asset base and excellent liquidity provides us with a competitive advantage as we navigate through this period of extreme commodity price volatility. More importantly, we have a group of very dedicated employees determined to relentlessly drive down costs throughout our business, while operating safely and responsibly to allow us to exit this downturn in a position of strength.