Ensign Energy Services reports Q3 net loss of $36 million on 60 per cent less revenue

Drilling completion operations Image: Ensign Energy Services

The president of Ensign Energy Services Inc. says activity is beginning to pick up in the North American oil and gas drilling sector after grinding to deep lows earlier this year due to low oil prices.

Bob Geddes says Ensign has between 60 and 65 rigs working now from its fleet of 223 rigs in Canada and the United States and expects to have more than 80 rigs employed in the first quarter of 2021, after hitting a record low of 42 active rigs in midsummer.

The Calgary-based company is reporting a net loss of $36 million or 23 cents per share on revenue of $157 million in the third quarter, compared with a loss of $37.8 million or 10 cents on revenue of $393 million in the same period of last year.

Analysts had expected a net loss of $64 million or 39 cents on revenue of $180 million, according to data firm Refinitiv.

Ensign reported that it experienced a 71 per cent decrease in operating days in Canada in the third quarter compared with the same period last year, while U.S. activity was down 77 per cent and its international operations were off by 44 per cent.

Geddes said stronger natural gas prices bode well for increased activity this winter but conceded commodity price increases are tied to an economy that has been laid low by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Business needs a shot in the arm, quite literally, with the COVID vaccine, to get this market coming back,'' he said on a conference call.

© 2020 The Canadian Press