Active drilling wells in AB drop to 85

This marks 3 months in a row with the number of active drilling wells declining.

Earlier this month, the Government of Alberta updated their Economic Dashboard to include May 2022 active drilling well data.

The data is adapted from information provided by the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling contractors.

In May 2022, the number of active drilling wells in Alberta was 85. This marks the third month in a row that the number of active drilling rigs has dropped.

Support independent journalism

In February, the number was 174, but a month later, it was 137 and was down to 95 in April. That means that the number of active drilling wells has dropped by 104.7%.

Now, to be fair, the number of active drilling wells always declines in the spring.

For example, last February, there were 112 active drilling wells, but only 40 the following May.

In 2020, the number of active drilling wells dropped from 160 in February to 9 in May.

Now, it is possible that the United Conservative Party government might try to spin these numbers in a positive light. Last month, Jason Kenney, tried to do just that with the April 2022 numbers.

And like April’s numbers, May’s numbers are higher than they were a year ago. Last May, they were only 40 drilling wells that were active, compared to 85 last month.

Also like April’s numbers, the number of active drilling wells more than doubled last month compared to the previous May.

Check out the number of active drilling rigs over the last 3 years.

This is the best May we have seen while the UCP have been in office.

And while it does seem pretty impressive that May 2022 saw largest number of active drilling rigs during that period, watch what happens when we take a longer-term look.

When compared to every May over the previous 3 decades, last month was nowhere near where it used to be. In fact, it’s in 17th place in terms of highest number of active drilling rigs, and only 2 more than the NDP’s high of 81 seen in 2017.

In comparison, however, April 2022 was the 15th highest April since 1991.

May 2005 saw the highest number, at 225. Last month’s numbers aren’t even half that amount.

And 13 of the 16 Mays with numbers higher than May 2022 saw active drilling rigs at 100 or higher, with three of the Mays passing 200.

Finally, take a look at this graph, which tracks the number of active drilling wells for each month over the last decade, not just Mays.

What we see here is that while we might be seeing a rise compared to the all-time low of 9 in May 2020, we’re still pretty low, relatively speaking.

Support independent journalism

By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent queer journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news articles, focusing on politics and labour.

One reply on “Active drilling wells in AB drop to 85”

I recall reading that legacy oil and gas in Alberta had peaked between 2000 and 2008, which accounts for the lowering of the number of wells. Cannot drill in tar, so it would seem that legacy oil and gas are the biggest part of this decline. Drilling into tar with steam assist extraction could, maybe, be counted as “drilling”.

Comment on this story

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: