Precision Drilling Hires 1,000 In Oilpatch

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Don't call it a comeback, exactly, but maybe think of it as a bright spot on an otherwise dim Alberta jobs front.

Precision Drilling Corp., one of Canada’s largest drilling companies, announced late last week that they have hired 1,000 employees — many of them former Precision employees who had been laid off in Alberta's energy downturn.

President and CEO Kevin Neveu told the Financial Post that his company is in "the early stages of this rebound," having recently reactivated 53 rigs in North America.

"With 37 rigs operating in the U.S. today, our activity is up 70 per cent from second quarter lows, while the industry increase is approximately 35 per cent," Neveu said in a press release.

precision drilling
Driller Ian Van Egmond operates the controls for a spinning drill on a Precision Drilling Trust rig in Alberta. (Photo: Norm Betts/Bloomberg via Getty Images

And while Precision had a $47 million net loss for the third quarter as revenue declined 45 per cent from last year, Neveu said he's seeing more optimism from customers.

"This improved outlook is evident in the conversations we are having with customers, but more importantly in our activity increases, recent contract bookings and improving pricing environment. We continue to remain cautious as we believe this optimism may be fragile and sensitive to commodity price volatility."

The pain felt in Alberta's oil patch has been far-reaching. The BOE Report estimates upward of 100,000 people have lost jobs in Alberta, in occupations both directly and indirectly linked to the oil industry.

And companies continue to announce layoffs; last week Calgary-based Enbridge Inc. announced it would cut 370 Canadian jobs across its operations following a company-wide organizational review.

Still, AltaCorp Capital analyst Aaron MacNeil told the Financial Post that he expects see a slight recovery in oilfield activity over the winter season. He said 2016's second quarter likely marks the cyclical low point of the current downturn.

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