Calgary

Medicine Hat mayor cheered by Cenovus Energy's return

Medicine Hat's mayor says he's feeling optimistic about southeastern Alberta’s economy after hearing Cenovus Energy is planning to drill for oil next year.

'We want to see, hopefully, some of our local people and service companies back to work'

Mayor Ted Clugston of Medicine Hat finds Cenovus Energy's plans to return to his region promising and hopes jobs and services companies will follow. (CBC)

Medicine Hat's mayor says he's feeling optimistic about southeastern Alberta's economy after hearing Cenovus Energy is planning to drill for oil in the area next year.

The Calgary-based oil producer's 2017 forecast includes plans to drill 50 horizontal wells into its Palliser conventional oil block.

"We're thrilled, and for a couple of reasons," said Ted Clugston.

"We want to see, hopefully, some of our local people and service companies back to work. Just about all of our service companies left Medicine Hat and this might be the impetus for them to come back."

Cenovus halted exploration in the area two years ago. The company also announced plans Thursday to go ahead with an expansion of its Christina Lake development in northern Alberta.

Both projects are part of new year's plans to invest between $1.2 billion and $1.4 billion in its operations, up 24 per cent from 2016, and increase oil production by about 14 per cent to approximately 230,000 barrels per day.

"We've missed predicting the bottom many times, but I think maybe we have reached the bottom," said Clugston. "And things do seem to be perking up and getting a little bit better."

Medicine Hat owns and develops its own natural gas, oil and electricity properties. It started drilling for conventional tight oil in the last year.

"To see a company like Cenovus doing exactly what we're doing is kind of an affirmation that we're maybe on the right track."

With files from The Canadian Press

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