Estevan — Bang! Sixty rigs kicked off right at the start of the year.

With oil over US$60 WTI in the first week of 2018, drilling in Saskatchewan took off. It takes a few days to get most rigs moving, but right off the hop, they’ve been firing up. By Jan. 4, Rig Locator listed 60 rigs working in the Land of Living Skies. That’s the highest level since the first week of March 2017. (This morning, another three rigs were added, bringing the total to 63 rigs at work.)

The highest number of active drilling rigs in Saskatchewan over the past three years was March 1, 2017, with 76 rigs for a brief period. The first 75 days of the year are traditionally Saskatchewan’s busiest when it comes to drilling, even moreso ever since the flood year of 2011, when wetter surface conditions hampered summer drilling for several years afterwards.

With 60 rigs working in the first week, that’s higher than any opening week since the downturn hit in late 2014.

The biggest impact, by far, has been Crescent Point Energy Corp.’s return to the top of the leader board for all oil companies in Canada with reference to the number of active drilling rigs. With 26 rigs on Jan. 4, it doubled the No. 2 operator, Encana Corporation which had 13. Indeed, Crescent Point had more than the No. 2 and No. 3 operators combined, as Cenovus Energy Inc., in third spot fielded 12 rigs.

It’s been a tumultuous few months for those drilling for Crescent Point, as the company drew down most of its drilling program in November for several weeks. It put a number back to work in mid-December, getting a hole or two done.

Now, of those 26 rigs in Canada, 25 were working for Crescent Point in Saskatchewan. Rig Locator’s map showed a bit of a change in strategy, as the company had four rigs working in the Viewfield Bakken area in something of a halo pattern, all about 11 to 15 kilometres from Stoughton. But it’s in the Torquay area that their emphasis has been revealed. In what is likely the highest concentration of rigs in that region since it took off a few years ago, the company had nine drilling rigs working in an area southwest of Torquay, from Highway 350 to 13 kilometres west, and from the U.S. border to 10 kilometres north.

Crescent Point had indicated a $100 million addition to its capital program to, in part, target the Lodgepole formation in this general region.

Rigs have started to pop up west of Oungre, with Spartan Energy Corp. having one rig west of the community, and TORC Oil & Gas Ltd. with its own, southwest of Oungre.

Two rigs were working along the north side of the Rafferty Reservoir, both for Crescent Point. That company also had a rig at Roche Percee.

Other singular rigs in the southeast included Ridgeback Resources Inc., with one rig at Heward. Midale Petroleums Ltd. had one east of Benson. TORC had one rig northeast of Lampman, in the Steelman field.

All by its lonesome without any other rigs near it in southeast Saskatchewan, Tundra Oil & Gas Ltd. had one rig working south of Carievale, at Antler.

In southwest Saskatchewan, there were nearly double as many active rigs as has been the usual pattern. That’s in part due to Crescent Point adding additional rigs, bringing their count up to six near Shaunavon and one north of Gull Lake. In that area, Surge Energy Inc. had one rig south of Shaunavon and Whitecap Resources Inc. had two north of Gull Lake.

In the Kindersley area, a line of 10 rigs ran east-west, from Dodsland to Whiteside. Five of those rigs were working for Teine Energy Ltd. Whitecap had two, Raging River Exploration Inc., Crescent Point, and NAL Resources had one each in that string.

Raging River also had a rig at Elrose and another at Plato. Crescent Point had one between those two, at Plato.

Another cluster could be found southwest of Kerrobert. There, Raging River had two rigs, while Baytex Energy Corp., ISH Energy Ltd., and Whitecap each had one.

Sitting off to itself in an area that doesn’t see much drilling at all in recent years, Caltex Resources had one rig working at Druid, just northwest of Kelfield.

Much of northwest Saskatchewan had scattered, lone rigs. Listed as Northern Blizzard, (now known as Cona ResourcesLtd.)therewas one rig working at Cactus lake. Under its own name, Cona had one rig at Winter. Altura Energy Inc. had a singular rig within sight of the Alberta border, just north of Macklin.

Southwest of Maidstone, Baytex Energy had one rig at Soda Lake.

North of Highway 16, only Husky Energy Inc. had rigs working — three of them. One was at Bolney, another at Tangleflags, and the third at Big Gully.