Revised drilling forecast for oil industry expected after stakeholder meetings

RED DEER, Alta. – An oilwell drilling spokesman expects a revised 2015 forecast in a few weeks in light of tumbling oil prices.

Derek Fildebrandt of the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors says the group wants to finish meeting with industry stakeholders first.

Fildebrandt says the association is watching the situation very closely.

But he adds it’s no time to panic.

Fildebrandt says the industry has been through oil price swings before, so the situation isn’t new to drillers.

He won’t hazard a prediction on how low oil prices could go.

“If I could tell you what oil prices are going to be 24 hours from now, I’d be a much richer man,” Fildebrandt said. “But the industry, the government, Albertans — together — need to be prepared to go through a long period of depressed oil prices.

“It doesn’t look like the Saudis are going to throw in the towel any time soon.”

Oil prices had already been falling before a meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in November. That’s when OPEC oil ministers decided to hold their production targets rather than reduce output at a time of already high supply. Prices have been falling sharply ever since and have recently slipped to below US$50 a barrel.

“It’s obviously challenging times, but our members have gotten through this before,” Fildebrandt said. “This is not the first downturn and we’ve gone through bigger downturns in the past.

“Alberta’s oil industry and its drillers and its service industry are remarkably resilient. Sometimes they have to scale back when they get into a tough spot when the market takes a downturn.”

Rig utilization is at 45 per cent right now, he said.

(CKGY, The Canadian Press)