Saskatchewan’s active drilling rig count spent the third week of September hovering around 10 rigs working, with nine working on Sept. 25, according to Rig Locator (riglocator.ca).
This activity level is markedly less than the last two years, when there where 37 rigs working on Sept. 26, 2018, and 38 rigs working on Sept. 26, 2019. During the 2010-2014 boom years, that number would be closer to 80-90 rigs working.
This continues a trend of very low drilling rig activity since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis. There were zero drilling rigs drilling for oil from mid-March until Mid-July. In recent years, there would be roughly 40 to 55 drilling rigs working throughout the summer, but there were only roughly five working in late July. That slowly climbed to around 10 in first half of September, with a peak of 12 rigs on Sept. 19.
Three of those nine rigs weren’t drilling for oil. One was drilling for potash for Nutrien, near Lanigan. Another was drilling for hot saline water in a geothermal project south of Torquay for Deep Earth Energy Production Corp. The third was drilling for North American Helium Inc. north of Consul. There was no oil drilling going on in southwest Saskatchewan.
There’s been something of a shift to the east, as there are now four rigs working in southeast Saskatchewan. Three of those are working for Crescent Point Energy Corp., which, over the previous five years, used to employ between 13 and 23 rigs during the same time of the year. Two of its rigs were working near Viewfield, southwest of Stoughton, and another was working near Forget.
Those three rigs put Crescent Point on the national leaderboard in fourth place for the number of rigs employed. It spent much of the previous five years in first place almost that entire time.
Other than geothermal drilling, this area had been almost bereft of drilling activity since mid-March, with only a few holes drilling in the region all summer.
In west central Saskatchewan, Teine Energy Ltd. continued its two-rig drilling program, with both of them drilling near Dodsland. Teine was the first out of the gate in mid-July and had been the most consistent driller in Saskatchewan, by far, since the COVID-19 crisis hit.
The last rig working was drilling for IPC Canada Ltd. at Onion Lake, a little more than a stone’s throw from the Alberta border.
Also notable is that all the drilling currently being done in Saskatchewan is by larger contractors. Ensign Drilling Inc. had three rigs, Precision Drilling had two, Savanna Drilling Corp. had two and Horizon Drilling had two. Not one of the smaller, Saskatchewan based independent drilling contractors had a rig in the field.
Nationwide, drilling activity is down across the board in all areas except British Columbia. Alberta is running 47 rigs, half of the 92 rigs it had working the same time last year. There were 124 rigs working in Alberta on Sept. 26, 2018.
Manitoba had just one rig working, and that’s only been a recent development. Otherwise its drilling activity was flatlined throughout the summer.
British Columbia’s current rig count, at 12, is actually two rigs more than the same time last year, but two rigs less than 2018.