Well into summer, drilling rig count is noticeably sluggish

Estevan – With oil prices roughly USE$10 lower than what they were a year ago, the active drilling rig count across Western Canada is showing a sluggish pace. Not only are the numbers off compared to the same time last year, when oil was US$70 per barrel, but they’re even lower than 2017, when oil was US$45 a barrel.

Saskatchewan had 40 out of 110 drilling rigs working as of July 15, according to Rig Locator (riglocator.ca), putting our fleet at a utilization of 36 per cent. That’s down considerably from 2018, when there were 58 rigs working on July 12, and 2017, when there were 51 rigs working.

Indeed, the rig count is down markedly for the previous three weeks, compared to the last to years. But it’s still considerably better than Alberta, whose 21 per cent utilization rate meant only 80 out of 303 rigs were working. That province’s rig count has almost flatlined, floating roughly 30 rigs above the level it hit during breakup. 

British Columbia had 14 of 34 rigs going, making a 29 per cent utilization rate. And in a remarkable turn, its rig count is even lower now that it was during breakup. It’s a little more than half of the 2017 number of 23, but just below the 2018 number of 16 for the same week.

In Manitoba, three of five rigs were turning to the right, for a 60 per cent utilization rate.

Several companies working in Saskatchewan were on the top 10 active operators list, but truth be told, it was a very low threshold to make it on that list. You only needed three rigs going to be in a three-way tie for eighth place.

The top operator, as usual, was Crescent Point Energy Corp., with ten rigs. While this was the leading position, it was less than half the number of rigs Crescent Point has usually operated in July in recent years, when at times 26 rigs was a common number. All but one of Crescent Point’s rigs were working in Saskatchewan. That included one at Coyote Lake, one at Griffin, and three at Oungre in southeast Saskatchewan. At Rapdan there was one rig and Clintonville had two rigs in southwest Saskatchewan. The last rig was at Plato in west central Saskatchewan.

Whitecap Resources was next, with seven rigs,  with five working in Saskatchewan. One was west of Swift Current at Seward, the second was south of Gull Lake. In west central Saskatchewan they had a rig each at Eagle Lake, Whiteside and Court.

In a three-way tie for third was Baytex Energy Corp., with six rigs, four in west central Saskatchewan. They were at Prairiedale, Coleville, Dodsland and Elsoe.

In a three-way tie for eighth, Teine Energy Ltd. had three rigs, working at Plenty and Plato (two rigs).

Rounding out west central Saskatchewan, Ish Energy Ltd. had one rig at Prairiedale.

In northwest Saskatchewan there were four rigs working north of the North Saskatchewan River, but curiously, none were for Husky Energy. Serafina Energy had one rig at Meota, Canadian Natural Resources had one rig north of Maidstone at Golden Lake, Rife Resources had one north of Lashburn, and West Lake Energy Corp. was making hole with one rig at Celtic.

Other rigs working in southeast Saskatchewan include three rigs working for Vermillion Energy Inc, at Steelman, Cantal and Winmore. NAL Resources Limited had one rig at Nottingham. Adonai Resources II Corporation had one rig at Carievale. Ridgeback Resources Inc. was drilling with one rig south of Kisbey. Highrock Resources had one rig at Benson. Burgess Creek Exploration Inc kept punching holes in its core area near Highway 47, near the Lampman turnoff. Torc Oil & Gas had one rig northeast of Midale. Canadian Natural Resources had a rig working at Lost Horse Hill, north of Stoughton.

Outliers included two rigs working in the Regina area. One was just north of the city, drilling for SaskEnergy. The next was south of Kronau, for Western Potash Corp. As usual, Mosaic Canada ULC had one rig reporting at Esterhazy. North American Helium seems to have moved over to the east from its usual stomping grounds, with a rig working at Rapdan.

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