Drilling are dramatically changing the landscape

In a rapidly changing industry, the total number of holes punched in the ground - PSAC predicts there will be 10,100 wells drilled in 2015 - doesn't accurately reflect actual oilfield activity these days. Advances in rig technology, multiwell pads, hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling are dramatically changing the landscape. Simply put, less is more.

Even though the number of wells in Western Canada is expected to drop by 730 from this year, PSAC is forecasting the overall metres drilled will increase next year to more than 24,000. The average length for a well in the basin has almost doubled over the past decade and PSAC expects it will surpass 2,400 metres next year.

Total metres per well aren't even the most telling change in the industry. The big difference is with the number of jobs associated with each new well.

"It used to be the rule of thumb was that every drilling rig working created 75 jobs ... you're looking at anywhere between 289 and 306 jobs created nowadays," PSAC president Mark Salkeld said Tuesday. "It's more than just drilling the well, it's the whole completion process."

The employment numbers for rig activity were produced for PSAC by Calgary business consultancy MNP from a study of three horizontal wells it studied that were drilled recently in northeast B.C., central Alberta and southern Saskatchewan.

It's part of an industry-wide transformation in the last decade.

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