Drillers say sentiment toward oilpatch nearing 'all-time' lows

The Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors is calling on Ottawa to shed regulatory changes as the industry's struggles continue.

Industry group forecasts drilling activity to remain flat

The Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors projects about 22,300 jobs in the drilling sector in 2020. That's down from last year, when there were more than 36,000 jobs. (Christine Hopaluk Photography/Citadel Drilling)

Canada's oil well drillers are calling on Ottawa to scrap regulatory changes the federal government introduced this year as the sector is forecasting another difficult year ahead.

The Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors says the government should repeal legislation overhauling the approval process for major infrastructure, like oil pipelines, and banning oil tanker traffic on a stretch of Canada's West Coast.

The industry group also called for a guarantee from the federal government that it will complete the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project "using all available tools and resources."

"Following the Canadian federal election in October, the sentiment toward Canadian oil and gas is nearing all-time lows," the association said in a new release on Wednesday.

The group says industry has lost out on billions in foreign capital. It says layoffs continue while some companies are relocating to the United States, taking jobs and equipment with them.

The association made the remarks as it released its drilling forecast for the coming year.

It projects 4,905 wells to be drilled in 2020, an increase of nine from 2019.

The province's rig fleet, meanwhile, is expected to decrease by 48 to 497 drilling rigs.

The number of jobs in the drilling sector is expected to be around 22,313 next year — about the same as this year but 13,731 fewer jobs than there were in 2018.

Canada's oil and gas industry is at a critical turning point, the group said.

"If we do not create an environment where the oil and gas industry can compete internationally, we won't have an industry left in this country," Mark Scholz, the organization's president, said in a statement.