'Bleak' drilling forecast calls for even fewer Canadian oil and gas wells in 2021

CALGARY — The Petroleum Services Association of Canada says it expects another "bleak" year for Canadian oil and gas drilling in 2021.

It says it expects a total of 2,600 wells will be drilled in Canada next year, down from its expected total of 2,850 wells in the current year. Both numbers represent more than 50-year lows for activity.

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PSAC cut its 2020 Canadian drilling forecast three times over the past 10 months as oil prices fell early in the year due to global overproduction and then fell again as the COVID-19 pandemic eroded demand for fuel.

The forecast for 2021 is 47 per cent lower than the 4,900 wells drilled in 2019.

It calls for fewer wells to be drilled in Alberta and Saskatchewan but more in British Columbia and about the same number in Manitoba and in Eastern Canada.

PSAC interim CEO Elizabeth Aquin says the slump in drilling is entering its sixth year and has been "devastating" for oilfield services companies and employees.

"These are the companies and people with the skills and expertise for responsible resource development, that innovate and create new technology to continue to reduce environmental footprint and contribute to the transition to a low-carbon future," she said.

"Without work and income, however, their capacity to do so is thwarted."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 29, 2020.

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