One week into the new year, Saskatchewan’s drilling rig fleet is up and running, with 29 rigs in the field on Jan. 8, according to Rig Locator (riglocator.ca).
Those 29 rigs also mark a high point in drilling since spring breakup in March 2020. Breakup coincided with the collapse of oil prices, resulting in zero rigs drilling from late-May until mid-July. Activity slowly crept up to a peak of 19 on Dec. 12 before the Christmas shutdown.
Traditionally almost all rigs shut down for a two-week period over Christmas and resume work right after new year’s, going until spring breakup.
Saskatchewan enters 2021 with a much-diminished fleet of rigs. After spending most of the last decade with around 120 registered drilling rigs in the province, a couple waves of retirements have reduced the Saskatchewan fleet to 94. With 29 now working, that makes for a 31 per cent utilization rate.
Notably, two rigs are drilling for oil in areas that have not seen much activity in several years, near Lake Alma and Redvers. A brand-new helium company, Royal Helium Ltd., also started its first well a few days ago.
It joined North American Helium Inc., which also had a rig going in a new area.
Crescent Point Energy Corp. had seven rigs going across the province, with the bulk in southeast Saskatchewan. Starting in that region, one Crescent Point rig was drilling for the Torquay formation southeast of Lake Alma, which is a little further west than the company usually operates. However, a couple years ago the company made a significant land purchase in this area, prospective for the Lodgepole formation.
Their second rig was working in their core area southeast of Oungre. Both of these rigs were considered in the Flat Lake area.
The next two rigs are in areas the company hasn’t done a lot of drilling in for quite a while. Crescent Point’s third rig was south of Benson on Highway 47 at the Lampman turnoff, and the fourth was just east of Kisbey.
The fifth rig was northeast of Stoughton.
Triland Energy Inc. was drilling south of Arcola with one rig.
Two rigs were drilling just north of Lampman, one for Spectrum Resource Group Inc. and the other for Torc Oil & Gas (which was recently absorbed by Whitecap Resources Inc.). Its third rig in the area was drilling east of Redvers, another area which has seen very little activity for quite a while.
Torc (Whitecap) had another rig working at Huntoon.
About halfway between Benson and Lampman as the crow flies, Astra Oil Corp. had one rig turning to the right.
Drilling for potash, Mosaic Canada ULC had its usual rig working near Esterhazy.
Moving to southwest Saskatchewan, Royal Helium Ltd. spudded its first helium well a few days earlier drilling east of Climax. Crescent Point had a rig working near Frontier, drilling for oil at Rapdan.
West of Swift Current, Whitecap Resources Inc. was drilling with one rig.
At Battrum, northwest of Swift Current, North American Helium was drilling a helium well into the PreCambrian. This is notable in that the company had, up until recently, been punching several holes northwest of Consul, in the extreme southwest. The shift to Battrum indicates a whole new area of helium development. With Weil Helium’s previous wells near Mankota, Royal Helium’s first well at Climax, North American Helium’s several wells at Consul and now this new development at Battrum, plus a historical helium-producing well near Swift Current, this marks a total of five helium development areas across the southwest portion of the province to date.
In west central Saskatchewan, Crescent Point was drilling at Plato. Whitecap had rigs at Inglenook (southwest of Kindersley) and Eagle Lake (northeast of Kindersley).
Teine Energy Ltd. had rigs at Kiyiu Lake (northeast of Kindersley) and Dodsland.
Baytex Energy Ltd. had rigs at Dodsland and Ethmuir Lake (west of Kerrobert).
In the northwest, all the activity was north of the North Saskatchewan River. The difference was that instead of just one company, Husky, working, there were three.
Husky itself is not longer Husky. After 74 years working in the region, it is now Cenovus Energy, although Rig Locator still lists it as Husky. They had rigs going at Brightsand Lake, Rush Lake and two at Edam.
Gear Energy Ltd. had one rig at Paradise Hill.
Canadian Natural Resources Limited had one rig just northeast of Maidstone. This rig, Stampede Drilling Rig 14, is notable in that Stampede, whose operations are based in Estevan, has typically worked in southeast Saskatchewan.