An idle $35-million onshore rig building program in Cape Breton has been given a two-year extension by the province and EnCana Corporation.


Nova Scotia Energy Minister Bill Estabrooks says the extension would give Laurentian Energy more time to wait out a decline in drilling activity in Western Canada.


Announced last October, the deal would have seen Laurentian build two onshore rigs for Nabors Canada at its Sydport facility in Sydney, creating about 75 jobs.


However, work was halted on the partially built rigs because of the downturn in activity in Canada's oilpatch.


The work is part of offshore energy agreements between the province and Encana, under which the company must deliver at least 1.35 million hours of work, including 850,000 hours for Nova Scotians.

Estabrooks wouldn't reveal whether there was any guarantee that the work on the onshore rigs would be done, saying only that he was “under the impression” that much in the agreement would depend upon the recovery of the economy in Western Canada.