Discovery Channel returns to the rig for season 2 of Licence To Drill, Jan. 10

A licence to drill means big business. But with hostile conditions, a punishing schedule and a high-stakes gamble – costing some operations $250,000 per day – drilling for oil in the Canadian North is only for the toughest of tough.

And it’s the lucky strike that pulls these men (and a few women) back for more. LICENCE TO DRILL returns for Season 2, Tuesday, Jan. 10 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Discovery Channel with six new episodes.

The high rollers are back… this time drilling for crude oil in the frozen land of the Canadian North. Last season, MGM Energy Corp. got a licence to drill for natural gas and struck it rich.

This season, they’re raising the stakes and gunning for an even bigger payoff: a wildcat well just south of the Arctic Circle. Hundreds of kilometres south, in central Alberta, Penn West Exploration is also drilling for oil, but they have a different strategy: gambling that new technology will spark the rebirth of one of North America’s biggest oil reservoirs.  

When the drills start biting and the adrenaline’s pumping, the adventure continues at with exclusive companion content and a new game, “Tunnel Runner,” which will be available online and as a downloadable app.

In a business where four out of five wells drilled are a bust, the prospects are too risky for all but the most daring companies. MGM returns to LICENCE TO DRILL for Season 2 – and this year, they’re betting it all on one wildcat oil well just south of the Arctic Circle. To get it done, they’ll have to build ice roads, cross the frozen Mackenzie River and squeeze the massive rig through narrow bridges. A multi-million-dollar wildcat well in an unexplored location is high risk, but the potential payoff is irresistible. The wellsite is just 70 kilometers from Norman Wells, NWT, a town that popped up when oil was discovered in 1919, and near an active pipeline that leads straight to Alberta.

This season, LICENCE TO DRILL also goes inside the rig operations of Penn West Exploration, one of the largest oil and natural gas producers in Canada. Penn West is drilling oil wells in the Pembina Field in central Alberta, an oil field discovered in 1953 and one of the largest in North America. Thousands of wells have been drilled in this area yielding over a billion barrels of oil, and until recently, the reservoir was believed to be tapped out. Penn West is betting on a rebirth of this old reservoir, drilling hundreds of wells in areas that were previously considered unprofitable. But with new technology, horizontal wells and multi-stage fracturing, they’re unlocking millions more barrels of crude oil.


Highlights from the first episodes of the new season of LICENCE TO DRILL 2 include:


LICENCE TO DRILL 2: “They’re Back”

Tues., Jan. 10 at 10 p.m. ET/PT

Just south of the Arctic Circle, a dangerously-thin ice crossing prevents MGM’s John Williams from trucking in his rathole rig and delays the start of the drilling. In Alberta, driller Cody Wilson has to drill four wells for Penn West Exploration this season, but rookie roughneck Jesse Halikas is slowing him down.



Tues., Jan. 17 at 10 p.m. ET/PT

In MGM country, Williams’ equipment is finally moving, but treacherous icy roads and narrow bridges threaten the heavy loads. And, 1,800 kilometres south at the Penn West site, Halikas survived his first test and now he’s back for more, learning to “trip” under Wilson’s watchful eye.


LICENCE TO DRILL 2: “Hard Drilling”

Tues., Jan. 24 at 10 p.m. ET/PT

At the Penn West site, a tough formation is chewing up the drill bits. Frustrated, Wilson and his crew turn to company man Logan Wild for a solution. Up north at the MGM site, Williams is good to go, but everything conspires against him and keeps his drill bit from biting the dirt.

About the author