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Service sector predicts Canadian drilling activity will fall even more in 2019

Last Updated Nov 1, 2018 at 4:02 pm MDT

Pumpjacks are shown pumping crude oil near Halkirk, Alta., on June 20, 2007. The Canadian oil and gas sector is in a holding pattern in which spending and production growth can't occur until new ways to get products to export markets are found, according to CIBC analyst Jon Morrison. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Larry MacDougal

CALGARY – The Petroleum Services Association of Canada is predicting more pain for the oil and gas sector next year.

It predicts a total of 6,600 wells will be drilled in Canada in 2019, down about five per cent from an expected 6,980 wells this year, adding that translates to a year-over-year decrease of up to $1.8 billion in capital spending by exploration and production companies.

Outgoing association chief executive Tom Whalen says the oilfield services sector in Canada is headed for a third year of stalled activity as export pipeline capacity constraints keep petroleum prices low.

It forecasts an average Western Canadian Select price discount to New York-traded West Texas Intermediate of US$24.50 per barrel next year, about US$10 above typical differences.

The forecast calls for activity to gradually ramp up during 2019 as crude-by-rail volumes rise to allow more barrels to get to market.

PSAC announced Thursday that former Alberta cabinet minister and provincial trade representative Gary Mar will become its new president and CEO as of Dec. 1.