Just like every year, Alberta is now experiencing its spring breakup. But stay tuned boys because this year’s breakup brings both good and not-so-good news.
Breakup happens every spring when our Western Canadian grounds begin to thaw turning many drill sites and rigs into a muddy disaster. This time of year usually brings drilling sites to a halt along with road bans and heavy vehicle weight restrictions put in place.
The not-so-good news for 2012’s spring breakup is that it arrived a few weeks early this year.
According to the Calgary Herald, “Rig counts in Western Canada dropped to below 50 per cent from highs of 80 per cent in mid-February, with warmer temperatures and thawing highways prompting a slew of road bans across the region.”
But good news came near the end of March from CIBC World Markets analyst Jeff Fetterly, when he predicted this year’s spring breakup will be shortened, reports Alberta Oil Magazine.
“Although there remains the potential for a wet spring that could extend breakup, if the current trend is maintained we would not be surprised to see a shortened breakup and an early increase in Q2/12 activity,” said Fetterly.
The magazine mentions that Fetterly looked at precipitation levels over the previous seven months in areas including Fort St. John, Whitecourt, Estevan, Grande Prairie, Lloydminster, Calgary, Medicine Hat, Red Deer and Fort McMurray - he found that precipitation levels have been below average and will remain low throughout the spring.
Unlike in the United States where rigs are operational almost all year round spring breakup is a regular occurrence for Canada. Our Western Canadian rig hands get a chance to use this muddy period for some well deserved time off.
“We've had a very productive winter season. Now it's time for a re-boot,” writes one Hinton trucker on the popular The Truckers Report forum. “Lots of washing, fixing, polishing and planning for this summer's work. A month or two to find time to get everything done and relax.”
“Meanwhile, I know there a few beer cans out there with my name on them.”
In 2011, the breakup period lasted more than a month longer than expected. Weather conditions didn’t help the situation when our southern Prairies saw flooding across the board.
Much of the drilling wasn’t started up again until June.