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The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Canadian oil well drillers enjoying best second quarter in seven years

CALGARY - Oil well drilling contractors in Canada say they are having their best second quarter since before the recession.

"This is the strongest second quarter we've seen in seven years," Mark Scholz, president of the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors, said in a statement Wednesday, adding that strong gas prices have increased cash investment to the industry.

The association said the industry's operating days for the second quarter will easily surpass 17,000. That compares with a second-quarter range from 8,411 at the low end in 2009 to 16,369 on the high end in 2011.

In the first quarter, rig utilization in Western Canada averaged 64 per cent, or 521 rigs active out of a fleet of 809. Operating days for the quarter totalled 44,721.

The revised forecast projects second-quarter activity at 23 per cent utilization with a total of 17,342 operating days, well above projections last November of a 19 per cent utilization rate and 14,230 operating days.

Third quarter activity is projected at 45 per cent utilization and 33,818 operating days, while expectations for the fourth quarter are for a 48 per cent utilization rate and 36,072 operating days.

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