Petroleum Services group downgrades drilling forecast by almost 25 per cent

RED DEER, Alta. – The Petroleum Services Association of Canada has downgraded its drilling forecast for the year by almost 25 per cent due to slumping oil prices.

The association has revised the forecast it released in October and now expects 7,650 wells to be drilled in 2015.

Nearly 4,200 wells are forecast to be drilled in Alberta, about 2,700 in Saskatchewan, 415 in British Columbia and 364 in Manitoba.

Those numbers are all down from initial predictions.

Association president Mark Salkeld says fewer wells mean fewer jobs.

But he adds the industry still wants to retain as many employees as possible.

“There’s definitely going to be an impact on jobs, but what … I’ve seen over my years in the (oil)patch is that there’s now a very significant shift in management philosophy about retaining employees — and that’s a good thing,” he said.

After a stronger than expected year in 2014, the energy industry is bracing for tougher times in 2015 following a collapse in the price of oil since last summer. It currently hovers around US$45 a barrel.

Salkeld is remaining positive.

“I’ve been around this business for 35 years and this is probably about No. 6 in slumps that are beyond our control,” he said.

“We do come through these slumps and we’re better at what we do when we do come through.”