Upswing in drilling forecast

The Petroleum Services Association of Canada has nudged upward its prediction of the number of wells that will be drilled in Canada this year.

The Petroleum Services Association of Canada has nudged upward its prediction of the number of wells that will be drilled in Canada this year.

The national trade association, which represents nearly 250 companies in the service, supply and manufacturing sectors of the upstream petroleum industry, said on Wednesday that it now expects 11,170 rigs to be released from well sites in 2013. That figure is up from PSAC’s original forecast last October of 10,800 wells, and a revised forecast in January of 10,930 wells.

The actual well count in 2013 was 11,097. The newest forecast is about one per cent above that.

“With a longer winter than normal across Canada this year and a breakup with continued activity in Q2, drilling activity is keeping on par with our original forecast in October,” said Mark Salkeld, president and CEO of PSAC. “Activity remains steady for our member companies, and many companies have been facing challenges with meeting demand as the shortage of skilled labour continues.”

PSAC based its latest forecast on anticipated average natural gas prices of C$4 per thousand cubic feet, oil prices at US$95 for a barrel West Texas intermediate crude, and the loonie averaging US$0.90.

It expects 6,530 wells to be drilled in Alberta this year, a slight decrease from the 6,555 it was projecting as of October. Saskatchewan’s forecasted count has jumped 11 per cent to 3,562 from 3,196; British Columbia’s is up 13 per cent, to 623 from 550; and Manitoba’s slipped nine per cent, to 435 from 480.

In addition to its revised forecast, PSAC released the results of a horizontal well workforce study that it commissioned MNP LLP to conduct.

That study looked at 6,128 wells in British Columbia, Central Alberta and Southern Saskatchewan that used horizontal drilling and multi-stage hydraulic fracturing techniques.

It was determined that those wells created the equivalent of 61,331 jobs, based on a 40-hour work week and 52-week year.

“The numbers are staggering when you consider how many jobs industry activity generates,” said Salkeld. “We know that the use of directional drilling with hydraulic fracturing has been critical to accessing Canada’s vast resources, and now we have a much clearer idea of the workforce generated by these new generation plays.”

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