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Canada’s growing list of unconventional resource plays should benefit the country’s oil-field services companies, according to Peters & Co. ­analyst Todd Garman.

More and more attention these days is being focused on unconventional resources plays, such as the Montney and Horn River in British Columbia, the Bakken in Saskatchewan and the Utica in Quebec. Advances in completion technology and horizontal drilling techniques are making it easier and more profitable for operators to exploit these shale formations.

In recent weeks, EnCana Corp. (NYSE:ECA) and Talisman Energy Inc. (NYSE:TLM) have noted growing commitments to their unconventional assets and on Monday, Shell Canada Ltd. [SHL.BE] said it had entered into an agreement to buy Montney-rich Duvernay Oil Corp. (OTC:DVNLF) for C$5.9-billion.

In a note to clients, Mr. Garman said:

We continue to believe that the emergence and development of unconventional natural gas resource plays, including the Montney and Horn River, and these plays’ significant potential, should result in operators directing significant additional capital to their development in coming years.

In turn, that should have a positive  impact on specific sectors of the oilfield service industry, in particular directional drillers and drilling contractors. He said unconventional wells are more expensive to drill and to complete than the average well and also take longer to drill.

Using a typical Montney well as an example, the analyst estimated that one-quarter of an unconventional well is drilled in a day, versus three-quarters of a well for the average conventional well.  Meanwhile, revenue generated over a four-day drilling period increases 300%, to roughly C$1.2-million from $300,000, for a Montney well when compared to an average well.

Mr. Garman noted a long list of companies set to benefit from the increase in unconventional activity levels, including: Ensign Energy Services Inc.(OTCPK:ESVIF), Pason Systems Inc.(OTCPK:PSYTF), Precision Drilling Trust (NYSE:PDS), Savanna Energy Services Corp. (OTC:SVGYF), Trican Well Service Ltd. (OTCPK:TOLWF) and Trinidad Drilling Ltd. (OTCPK:TDGCF).

He said directional drillers and pressure pumpers stand to gain the most, giving “top pick” status to Calfrac Well Services Ltd. (OTCPK:CFWFF) and Phoenix Technology Income Fund (PHX.UN/TSX).  Mullen Group Income Fund (OTC:MTLJF), which offers specialized transportation and related services to the oil and natural gas industry, will also benefit, due to the logistics involved in drilling and completing these types of wells.

Source: Peters & Co. Analyst: Shale Plays Could Benefit Drillers