“It’s easier on the workers that are outside,” Dickie said. The warmer than normal weather has also allowed the company to move their rigs without delays or pauses due to winter storms. Moving rigs can be delayed when there are strong winds or extremely low temperatures.

 

Panther Drilling owns and operates three rigs that drill wells for oil and gas operators in southern Saskatchewan. The rigs resemble mini compounds and weigh several thousand kilograms. Moving them requires solid earth. 

 

“The mild winter … certainly makes things run a lot more smoothly,” said Twila Walkeden, community relations advisor for the Weyburn-based offices of Cenovus.

 

“We have been able to be much more productive,” she said, citing no need to perform snow removal duties or loss of work time due to severe winter storms. Walkeden also said employees can safely work longer without taking a break when the weather is mild.

 

Cenovus extracts roughly 27,000 gross barrels of oil per day from the Weyburn area and is a major player in the CO2 storage project.

 

“Spring break up should be a lot shorter,” said Walkeden, but  cautioned that it is still the beginning of February -- too soon to predict with any certainty how long the roads will be too wet and soft to carry heavy equipment.

 

Although data about ground frost depth is unavailable because of a technical malfunction at the Saskatchewan Research Council, both Dickie and Walkeden seemed confident that it is not as thick as in years past. They are hoping for a shorter spring break up because of this fact.

 

head shot Elise ThomsenElise Thomsen (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) is a contributing reporter and photographer for the University of Regina School of Journalism’s 2012 news service for weekly newspapers in Saskatchewan. She is from Michigan, and has spent 16 weeks in the newsroom of Jamac Publishing in Kindersley and another eight weeks at the Weyburn Review on internship. She will graduate this spring with a particular interest in reporting on important community developments, the arts, and human rights issues.