The Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors recently announced better than expected first quarter 2008 activity, says Allen Brooks, managing director for Parks Paton Hoepfl & Brown, an independent investment-banking firm. The new forecast calls for 24% more active rigs, an 8% increase in rig fleet utilization and 33.5% more rig days than its prior forecast. Based on well count, the new forecast calls for 4,300 additional Canadian wells this year, although the count still will be down from 2007’s total. The outlook is further helped by a changed attitude toward its new royalty scheme by the province of Alberta. "The province’s royalty change is a reaction to the shift in oil and gas industry spending outside its borders and the industry’s recent E&P successes due to that spending,” says Brooks. “The impact is likely to help boost Alberta activity. The revised forecast calls for the fleet rig utilization rate to reach 42%, about 10% higher than the utilization rate achieved in 2007. "The well count forecast revision results in a 9% increase in Manitoba (350 wells), a 4% gain in Saskatchewan (3,525), a 9% decline in British Columbia (800) wells and a whopping 15% reduction in Alberta wells (11,748)."