Ron Liepert, the province’s Energy Minister says, Alberta’s biggest February sale of conventional oil and gas drilling rights in at least 14 years, confirms growing confidence in the province’s regulatory regime.
However, the Calgary Hearld reports at least one industry spokesman says the reason for the land rush is not politics, but a combination of geology and new technology.
John Wright, chairman and chief executive of PetroBakken Energy Limited, says the sale was driven by interest in a reservoir in the Pembina formation.
It appears in zones from south of Edmonton to west of Calgary and has been producing oil and gas for more than 50 years through vertical wells.
Now however, Mr. Wright says new horizontal drilling technology has sparked renewed interest in the area.
Alberta Energy reported yesterday it had raised 106 million dollars in its February sale, more than 12 times as much as it took in during the same sale in 2009 and three times more than it collected in February 2008.
In fact the closest February sales total in government records going back to 1996, came in 2006 when 92 million dollars was raised on the way to an all-time Alberta annual high total of 1.47 billion in non-oilsands oil and gas drilling rights.
However, these numbers pale in comparison to those of BC, which recorded a record high calandar year sale of 2.66 billion dollars in 2008 and that included a monthly record in July of that year of more than 610 million.
BC has opened this year with a January sale of more than 13 million dollars and the February sale is scheduled for the 24th of the month.