Number of Oil Drilling Rigs Plummets with Oil Price in Saskatchewan

With recent oil prices, which fell below the historic threshold of 30 USD barrel, plunging to 13-year lows, oil well drilling process in Saskatchewan has declined, with 43 active oil drilling rigs in the province at the start of the week, down about 27% from the 59 active oil drilling rig platforms at the same time a year ago, reported the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors (COADC).

Indeed, there is an improvement of the number of active oil drilling rigs from earlier this month, when there were 25 active oil well drilling rigs the week of January 4th, which raised to 34 oil rigs the following week. This number might be compared with the 43 active oil rigs the week of January 5th, 2015, followed by 68 the week of January 12th, 2015. This is equal to 42% and 50% decline in the number of active oil well drilling rigs during the comparable periods over the last year.

“When you look at the (2016) numbers, you’re technically growing,” said Kate Jackson, communications specialist with CAODC in Calgary. “There’s more active rigs (this week) than weeks past.  But if you compare it to the same week in 2015,” the number of active rigs is down significantly from last year, she said.

“It looks like Saskatchewan (active) rig count is dropping about 20 rigs every year,” Jackson added.

There were 122 oil drilling rigs in total, including inactive or "down" rigs in Saskatchewan this week, for a rig utilization rate of 35%, according to the report of CAODC. The average level of total weekly drilling rigs count for 2016 is 120 units or almost 17% less, compared to the same period in 2015 when the average was 140. What this decline means is that 20 oil drilling rig platforms have left the province, whether they're de-listed, parked and not coming back to drill in 2016 or moved to Alberta for work or parked in field locations here, commented Kate Jackson.

However, the rate of utilization of Saskatchewan, which is 35% is pretty much better than 29%, the industry average, including the Alberta's utilization rate of 25%. Of 523 oil drilling rig platforms in total, Alberta had 133 active rigs this week and 390 down rigs. 

B.C. had 49 not active and 32 active oil drilling rigs out of 81 rigs or a utilization rate of 40%, while Manitoba had only 6 active drilling rigs this week, 12 down, for a total of 18 or a utilization rate of 33%.

What Kate Jackson also added is that CAODC defines an active oil rig as "spud to rig release," which means "the drill bit is in the ground."

Unfortunately, the decline in the activity of oil drilling rigs influenced over the oil rig jobs in the oilpatch accordingly. Each oil rig platform employs approx 135 direct and indirect jobs, including 20 direct oil rig jobs and 115 indirectly. “So 20 rigs times 135 jobs does make a difference,” said Jackson.