Recent statistics show that drilling activity by the province's oil industry is rebounding after a challenging year in 2009.
Drilling numbers compiled to the end of July by the Ministry of Energy and Resources show that 1,253 oil wells have been drilled so far this calendar year. That's a 96 percent increase over the corresponding figure for 2009, when only 639 oil wells were drilled.
The year-to-date numbers are also tracking favourably when compared to oil well drilling numbers for corresponding periods (January 1 to July 31) in 2008 (1,400 wells), 2007 (1,241 wells) and 2006 (1,183 wells).
"Our oil industry was not immune to the global economic slowdown that affected all oil producing jurisdictions in 2009, but Saskatchewan's oil patch has weathered that storm," Energy and Resources Minister Bill Boyd said. "We've seen a bounce-back so far this year with these strong drilling numbers and resurgent land sale activity."
More than 60 percent of the oil wells drilled to date are horizontal wells. The 759 horizontal oil wells drilled to the end of July are more than double the number of horizontal wells drilled as of July 2009 (320 wells) and represent a 16 percent increase over the corresponding figure for 2008, when a record was ultimately set for horizontal oil well drilling.
Horizontal wells now account for almost half of Saskatchewan's total oil production.
Boyd said that while the Bakken oil play continued to perform strongly, his ministry was also seeing increased interest in horizontal drilling in emerging oil plays like the Lower Shaunavon in the southwest, the Viking in west-central Saskatchewan around Kindersley and the Birdbear in the northwest near Lloydminster. Interest has also picked up in deeper oil plays in the southeast along the United States/Saskatchewan border.