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Crude oil, NGL to account for 80% of 2017 drilling in Canada, rigs up: PSAC

Calgary — Nearly 80% of the total wells to be drilled in Canada in 2017 will be targeted at crude oil and NGLs and the remaining 20% at natural gas, the president of an oil services industry group said Tuesday.

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"With WTI prices stabilizing over $50/b for the past month, conventional producers in Alberta and Saskatchewan will be spending more dollars in drilling and are already hiring rigs," Petroleum Services Association of Canada President Mark Salkeld said.

The bulk of the drilling will take place in the Cardium and Duvernay plays in the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin, with the "dominant" areas include Rocky Mountain House, Wapiti and Sundre, he said.

The winter drilling season in Western Canada -- which extends from early December to end of March -- has been active and the total number of rigs in operation on January 31 is 355, Salkeld said.

This is compared with some 250 rigs deployed in January end last year, he said.

On Monday, assuming a WTI price of $52.50/b and an AECO gas price of C$3 ($2.3)/MMBtu, PSAC forecast that a total of 5,150 wells will be drilled in Canada in the current year.

In 2016, the total number of wells drilled was 3,950, he said.

In 2017, Alberta is forecast to have the most wells drilled at 2,706, followed by Saskatchewan at 1,985, British Columbia at 367 and Manitoba at 73. The remaining 19 wells will be drilled in Eastern Canada, PSAC said.

--Ashok Dutta,

--Edited by Derek Sands,