Following the release of our revised 2020 capital budget and announced dividend reduction, we have witnessed further deterioration in near-term commodity prices as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting oil demand destruction. In particular, growing oil inventory has decreased prompt prices for global benchmark indices and expanded regional discounts in North America. As we have previously stated, we are attuned to evolving business conditions and are prepared to make further adjustments to all forms of cash outlays to protect Vermilion’s financial position. In view of our determination to reduce debt within the current commodity environment, we are suspending our monthly dividend until further notice following the payment of the March dividend of $0.115 previously declared for payment today.
Since the beginning of March 2020, our annualized cash outlays for capex and dividends have now been reduced by approximately $520 million. Furthermore, we have identified approximately $30 million of additional opportunities to reduce cash expenses and will seek to identify and secure other savings.
Vermilion has a long history of paying dividends and we remain strong proponents of returning capital to shareholders. For Vermilion, returning cash to our owners has enforced capital discipline and led us to put in place a conventional and semi-conventional asset base with low base declines and differential capability to produce free cash. Nonetheless, financial strength remains our overriding goal, and suspension of our dividend enhances that objective. Acting today better positions us for the economic and commodity recovery that we believe will ensue when the world economy emerges from the COVID-19 crisis. Looking forward, Vermilion fully intends to exit this period of economic turmoil in a posture of enhanced strength to resume a capital markets model that includes returning cash to our shareholders.
Vermilion is an international energy producer that seeks to create value through the acquisition, exploration, development and optimization of producing properties in North America, Europe and Australia. Our business model emphasizes free cash flow generation and returning capital to investors when economically warranted, augmented by moderate organic production growth and value-adding acquisitions. Vermilion is targeting growth in production primarily through the exploitation of light oil and liquids-rich natural gas semi-conventional resource plays in Canada and the United States, the exploration and development of high impact natural gas opportunities in the Netherlands and Germany, and through oil drilling and workover programs in France and Australia. Vermilion holds a 20% working interest in the Corrib gas field in Ireland.
Vermilion’s priorities are health and safety, the environment, and profitability, in that order. Nothing is more important to us than the safety of the public and those who work with us, and the protection of our natural surroundings. We have been recognized as a top decile performer amongst Canadian publicly listed companies in governance practices, as a Climate Leadership level (A-) performer by the CDP, and a Best Workplace in the Great Place to Work® Institute’s annual rankings in Canada, the Netherlands and Germany. In addition, Vermilion emphasizes strategic community investment in each of our operating areas.
Employees and directors hold approximately 5% of our fully diluted shares, are committed to consistently delivering superior rewards for all stakeholders, and have delivered over 20 years of market outperformance. Vermilion trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol VET.