Spring break-up is underway in the oil industry and one company says they will be getting back to business as early as the end of the month, however, not at full-force. Baytex Energy Corp. has stated with multiple variables adding to the uncertainty of the future of oil in Canada, they are still proceeding with caution.
The company merged with Raging River Exploration Inc., who focused a lot of their efforts within the Kindersley area last year. The merge diversified both companies, but will likely mean a drop to work in Kindersley.
“We’ll see a slight drop in our activity levels, I’d say around 80 per cent of the capital programs we used to run,” said Chad Lundberg, Vice President of the Viking Business Unit for Batex Energy.
However, Lundberg outlined they are shifting their focus towards the Viking as a key cash-flow development property. An estimated $260 to $270 million is set to be invested next year as capital program for Baytex, which would be centred around the Kindersley area.
Lundberg said they are expecting to have frack crews out by the end of April or beginning of May and drilling crews will be deployed by the May long weekend, at “moderate force”.
“Bill C-69, bill C-48, the carbon tax, pipeline egress and being that it’s an election year, all play big roles in what may be coming our way,” said Lundberg. “We have capital positioned and ready to go if politics and policies prove to be encouraging, but it could also stay parked if no solutions are made”.
He shared that it is the uncertainty that is leaving their hands tied, not knowing if more rail cars are coming or if any of the three pipelines, Enbridge Line 3, Keystone XL or the Trans Mountain Pipeline, will come into fruition.
The set back on Enbridge’s Line 3 project ruptured the optimism to get oil south of the border into the U.S. “We were really cheering that pipeline on and we were expecting it later this year, but now it’s been pushed back into maybe the last of next year and it just creates more uncertainty. We really need line 3 to move forward,” said Lundberg.
While they bring crews back into the area in moderate force in a few weeks time, Lundberg said they will be waiting for clarity on a number of topics before ramping up business in the area. However, opportunities in Texas are abundant and any hold-backs in Saskatchewan will be made up for south of the border, but Lundberg said they are dedicated to Canada.
“A lot of us are true Canadians and are dedicated to making this work and to being successful here at home, not only for our families but for the future of oil here as well,” said Lundberg.
He added that as time goes on with no resolutions, it is possible that more and more companies will move their assets and equipment into the U.S. “This could be a real problem, it could be really hard to get people back into Canada once they make that kind of major decision, move their family and start making commerce, it could be very challenging to get them to move again”.
As details get sorted out on a number of topics, Lundberg said they are still very excited about the Kindersley area with plans for an estimated 250 wells this year, within the Viking area.