With the price of oil now sitting around $60 per barrel, it's seeing one of the strongest starts in several years, and has prompted some optimism, and caution.

For Ray Frehlick of Prairie Mud Service, he believes that it could be a trend that sticks around, or even increases. While downed pipelines south of the border created decreased inventory that resulted in a price jump, those are pretty much repaired. However, some other factors may come into the equation.

"There's quite a bit of unrest in Venezuela, Iran and Iraq, so my consensus is that oil is probably going to stay in this $55-62 range for awhile here. Especially now, with the tremendously cold weather they're having in the U.S, it's spurred a demand for heating oil and gasoline, so that all helps."

With that, coupled with OPEC's decision in November to extend oil production cuts through 2018, Frehlick says that things could get as high as $65-70.

"It would help a lot if prices stayed up where operators can invest money in drilling and new production, but I think there'd still be some caution taken, to see if it stays in the long term."

He added that the level of rigs in the field are a bit above the number that was seen a year ago, however, too much growth could cause new challenges.

"I think if the industry picks up too much, it's going to have problems with manpower, because there's a lot of people that have left the energy sector and found other work that helps put bread on the table, and probably not coming back unless there's steady employment."

That said, the warming of the temperatures have been a boon to workers as they get back into the field following the holidays, having previously been laboring in the brutally frigid conditions prior to that.

Looking ahead at 2018, Frehlick noted that optimism has risen with the price of oil, but liberally spiced with caution, and such will probably continue to be the case, as companies still have little to invest in exploration and development.

 

 

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