CALGARY — A key indicator of future oil and gas drilling activity in Western Canada is sliding lower as the industry deals with a lack of pipeline capacity, Alberta oil production curtailments and difficulty accessing capital markets.Sales of Crown drilling rights — needed to allow energy exploration on land where mineral rights are held by the province — have fallen off dramatically in B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan this year.“When drilling rights are going well, it tends to mean somebody has found either a good reservoir or a good way to produce a known reservoir and so you get a lot of excitement,” said Richard Masson, an executive fellow with the School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary.- Advertisement -“This says to me, there’s no excitement at all right now. People are doing little bits of infill land buying but there’s nothing that looks like a very prospective play that would excite the industry and excite new capital to come in.”In Alberta, which produces about 80 per cent of Canada’s oil and about 70 per cent of its natural gas, twice monthly auctions are on track for a record low with two sales left to go in 2019. Through 11 months, the province has raised $100 million by selling rights on 616,000 hectares.The current low mark was set in 2016, when $137 million was paid for the rights to drill on 937,000 hectares, the lowest since the auction system was adopted in 1977.Advertisement “The mood is very cautious. People are feeling very beat up,” said Grant Fagerheim, CEO of Whitecap Resources Inc., in an interview.At Whitecap, as with many other mid-sized Calgary producers, using scarce dollars to buy land for future drilling and then spending more on the exploration required to retain the lease is way down on the priority list, he said, below maintaining a dividend, reducing debt and buying back shares.“Companies just don’t have budget to acquire new lands. Nobody is exploring for new plays or new ideas, or very few people are,” said Brad Hayes, a geologist and president of Petrel Robertson Consulting in Calgary.Drilling rights auction prices fell sharply after global oil prices bottomed out in 2016, which convinced some bargain hunters to nominate land and make bids in hopes there would be a bounce back, he said. But conditions haven’t improved.The trend to lower interest in drilling rights auctions is welcomed by environmentalists like Keith Stewart of Greenpeace Canada, who said in an email it is a sign that the “era of ever-growing demand for oil” is over.Advertisement The high was in 2011, when a bidding frenzy for lands for the Duvernay underground oil-bearing formation resulted in $3.5 billion spent to buy rights on 4.1 million hectares.In British Columbia, land auctions have delivered $64 million so far this year, down from $173 million last year but ahead of $18 million and $15 million in 2015 and 2016, respectively. The record high year was 2008, when $2.66 billion was spent.In Saskatchewan, sales of drilling rights have raised about $22 million in five auctions, down from $51 million in six auctions last year. The province’s record year was also 2008, when it raised $1.1 billion.Industry insiders say the declines are mainly due to the lack of new pipeline capacity to allow more oil and gas production, and the resulting loss of confidence by investors that has starved the sector of debt and equity funding. Production limits in Alberta imposed by the government to better align supply with pipeline capacity are another overhang on activity.Advertisement In B.C., much of the prime land has been snapped up by producers, leaving less to be nominated for auction, said a spokesman for the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources who asked not to be identified. He said some land is not available for development because of government processes around caribou recovery and land and environment planning assessments in northeastern B.C.The Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors recently predicted just nine more wells will be drilled in Canada in 2020 compared with this year, taking the total number to 4,905, less than half the 11,226 wells drilled in 2014.Meanwhile, the S&P/TSX Capped Energy Index, which tracks share values of major Canadian oil and gas producers, has fallen by about 15 per cent over the past year, reflecting investor distaste for the sector.But Whitecap’s Fagerheim says there’s hope for the industry if Canada can get pipelines built, a task he says will require concerted effort from everyone involved to educate the rest of Canada on the virtues of the oilpatch.“I think it’s as simple as that. Make commitments, live by those commitments. Remove those delays and the regulatory processes that inhibit us from getting our products to market.Advertisement “And I think we can get the enthusiasm back.”This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Nov. 24, 2019.Companies mentioned in this article: (TSX:WCP)Dan Healing, The Canadian Press
Enlarge ImageShots of cars in sand dunes never get old. Land Rover We’re slowly approaching the point where Land Rover will finally pull back the veil on its hotly anticipated 2020 Defender SUV. However, today isn’t that day, which means we’ll have to live with more cool pictures of a camouflaged Defender for now. Shucks.Land Rover on Friday released a new smattering of pictures showing the 2020 Defender tackling the sand dunes in Dubai. Part of the Defender’s testing program ahead of its official unveiling, Land Rover teamed up with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to give this little ute the ol’ what-for in an area where its buyers are likely to travel.Out in Dubai, the Defender didn’t just whip around the dunes. It also tackled hairpin curves on the Jebel Jais highway. Temperatures shot past the triple-digit mark, which makes it a great place to suss out the Defender’s high-temp behavior, as well. It also tackled altitudes well above the one-mile mark, ensuring its engine doesn’t choke itself out when the air gets thin. Share your voice Land Rover Tags 2018 Range Rover Velar: Effortless SUV elegance on- and off-road Land Rover Post a comment 33 Photos SUVs Luxury cars Future Cars 2020 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque review: Style, now with more substance Land Rover first announced the return of the Defender in late 2018, and it revealed that the model would finally return to the US, as well, following a 23-year absence. Its boxy good looks have remained hidden by camouflage, but Land Rover hasn’t been shy about throwing out a whole lot of teasers ahead of its anticipated debut, which could come as early as the Frankfurt Motor Show in September. Even rumors have been few and far between. The most notable one we’ve heard about, though, is that the Defender will be available in three sizes — 90, 110 and 130, with the smallest being a three-door model. We’ve also seen what appears to be the Defender’s interior thanks to some clever spy shots. If you can’t afford one, don’t worry, because Lego has a Technic Defender coming out, which should be significantly easier on the wallet. 2020 Land Rover Defender hits the dunes of Dubai More From Roadshow 0 2019 Land Rover Range Rover P400e review: A hard hybrid to recommend
October 6, 2015 Register Now » Microsoft took a swipe at Apple’s MacBook Pro today with the introduction of the super sleek convertible Surface Book. The ultra-thin hinged laptop doubles as a tablet, features a removable keyboard and works with a touch, a “Pen” stylus or a mouse.With a starting price of $1,499, the lightweight, 13.5-inch device — Microsoft’s first-ever in-house laptop — boasts a full-sized backlit keyboard, 16GB GDDR5 RAM, a 12-hour battery life and a sixth-generation Intel Core processor. The MacBook Pro, which Microsoft claims churns at half the speed of the Surface Book, starts at $1,299.Related: Microsoft’s Version of Siri Fails to Work at the Worst Possible Moment (VIDEO)Introducing #SurfaceBook, the ultimate laptop. pic.twitter.com/H3uAkX7MXx— Surface (@surface) October 6, 2015″What if you wanted a Surface — but you wanted a laptop Surface, something with a bigger screen, something with the perfect typing experience of a laptop?” Panos Panay, Microsoft’s Surface VP, asked the crowd as he revealed the MacBook challenger at a Windows 10 devices live briefing this morning.Related: Twitter Unveils Easy-to-Use ‘Moments’ Feature That Curates Trending TopicsThe laptop officially goes on sale on Oct. 26, although Microsoft will begin accepting orders for it tomorrow.Also introduced at today’s event were a newer, thinner Surface Pro 4 tablet, an arched-screen iteration of the Band fitness tracker and new Lumia smartphones. Microsoft also announced that it will upgrade all of its Xbox One systems to Windows 10, enabling Xbox 360 games to be played on the Xbox One.Related: How Bill Gates Became a Leadership Legend Free Webinar | Sept. 9: The Entrepreneur’s Playbook for Going Global 2 min read Growing a business sometimes requires thinking outside the box.