Alberta's energy ministry is welcoming news that energy companies in Canada added more drilling rigs last week than they have in five years.
A total of 118 rigs were added in Canada for the week ending Jan. 10, according to the latest numbers from Baker Hughes, which has provided publicly available rotary rig counts since 1944.
The last time that many new rigs were added in the country was back in 2015, according to data obtained from Baker Hughes.
Alberta added 69 rigs week-over-week, while Saskatchewan added 42, numbers show. It brings the total number of rigs added in Canada up to 203.
In a statement, Alberta's energy ministry called the spike in drilling rig activity good news for the province's oil and gas sector.
"Since taking office last year, government has been focused on reducing unnecessary red tape, and introduced the Job Creation Tax Cut, to attract further investment," the ministry said. "We will continue our work to ensure that investors know that Alberta is once again open for business."
The Calgary-based Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors (CAODC) agreed that it was good news for the industry, but said oil and gas isn't out of the weeds yet.
"This is traditionally in the past the way that it should work is that we always get a bump in the beginning of January and it lasts until around spring break, so we'll see if this is sustained," said Mark Scholz, president and CEO of CAODC.
He said time while tell how much money producers are willing to spend, as their overall budgets have not seen a material change.
He credited the Alberta government for lifting oil curtailments for new conventional wells in November and reducing corporate taxes and red tape, saying there was "no question" those measures were having some degree of impact.
"There are about an extra 10,000 people working today who weren't working this time last year," said Scholz.
With construction beginning on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and Enbridge's Line 3 coming online in December, as well as natural gas prices starting to increase, Scholz said it's a good start to the year for the industry.
"This is still a very difficult industry to be in today, but certainly the way we're starting in 2020 I think this is good news."