Drilling Rigs in Western Canada [INFOGRAPHIC]

We prepared new infographics about Drilling Rigs in Western Canada. It shows Canadian oilfield features: drilling allocation by provinces and seasonality of drilling in Western Canada.

Drilling Rigs in Western Canada - Infographics by riger.ca

In western Canada the busiest season for drilling is in the winter, when the ground is frozen. Cold temperatures, high winds, frozen ground, heavy snowfall and ice are not ideal for outdoor activity. But for Oil and Gas Industry, the conditions are just right for the winter drilling season in Canada. The frozen ground allows us to move heavy rig equipment where roads do not exist, or without damaging existing roads. When the ground is thawing or wet, road bans are put in place by the county to protect the roads and ground

Western Canada winter drilling season typically runs from December through March. Canadian Oil and Gas Companies generally spend about half of the company’s full-year capital budget on winter drilling.

These areas are limited to winter-only drilling because the only feasible way for heavy drilling equipment to access the area is when the ground is frozen. Since these areas are very wet during the remainder of the year, only ground hardened by sub-zero temperatures can support the heavy equipment needed for drilling. However, because of the extreme cold, maintenance becomes critical to ensure equipment can operate in the freezing conditions.

Everything is more challenging in the extreme conditions. Like changing a flat tire, it’s easier to do on a warm summer day than when the temperature is minus-30 degrees Celsius.

In addition to the conditions, another challenge involved with winter drilling is timing. Plans usually call for Servicing Companies to drill hundreds of wells in a short amount of time — from the first freeze until the spring thaw. If the crews are not able to tie-in a well by the time the ice melts, the energy company must wait until the following winter to finish the work.

Industries usually measure economic impact by approximating a dollar value to represent their purchasing power.

The oil and gas industry measures economic impact by counting active drilling rigs. A drilling rig requires many oilfield support services to drill a well. And after the well is complete, other oilfield services go to work to bring the well into production and to maintain it.

Knowing how many drilling rigs are active indicates how busy the rest of the oil and gas industry is.

Oil and gas is a labour intensive industry and generates jobs:

  • directly at the rig
  • indirectly in the oilfield service sector
  • in rural communities near oil and gas exploration and production.

Each active drilling rig represents 135 jobs.

Rig utilization is the percentage of active rigs. In Canada, rig utilization has a distinct annual cycle. Rigs are busiest in the winter. In the spring, thawing roads and soft fields make it difficult to move equipment. Rigs shut down while industry waits for the ground to dry out. This period of low rig activity is called spring break-up.

The activity cycle is very pronounced for drilling rigs (fewer drilling rigs work in spring and summer) and slightly less pronounced for service rigs.


This article was prepared by riger.ca

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