International rig count rises in August

HOUSTON�The anticipated rebound in the international rig count (the world excluding the US and Canada) materialized last month as the total reached 705, up 6% from the 662 counted in July 2000, and a rise of 27% vs. the 556 counted a year ago.

Houston-based Baker Hughes Inc. released that data this week. It also reported that the international offshore rig count for August 2000 was 208, up 5% from July 2000 and 48% from August 1999.

The worldwide rig count for August was 2,011, up 99 from July and 546 from August 1999.

International drilling activity is close to the level seen in the fall of 1997, when the downward cycle for oil prices was triggered in part by the crash of Asian economies, says Baker Hughes.

Regional changes
Latin America experienced the biggest increase in working rigs vs. other regions. The August rig count in that region climbed to 249, up 16 from July and up 65 from August 1999.

Baker Hughes official Gary Flaharty noted that extremely steep decline curves for oil wells is forcing Venezuela to step up its drilling activity.

Drilling activity also climbed in the Asia-Pacific region, where the combined onshore and offshore count rose 13 to 152 vs. 139 rigs working in July and 121 in August 1999.

In the US, bullish natural gas prices and a tight supply market kept producers busy drilling on and offshore, said Baker Hughes, pushing the US count for August to 987, up 45 from July and 348 from August 1999. The Canadian rig count for August was 319, up 11 from July and 49 from August 1999.

Flaharty says the Canadian count is being held at an artificially low level by bad weather, which is keeping producers from moving drilling rigs between sites.

The workover rig counts in August for the US and Canada stood at 1,032 and 327, respectively, up 18 and 25 from July. In August 1999, they stood at 860 and 300 for the two countries.

The total rig count for North America averaged 1,359 in August, up 43 from July and 199 from August 1999.

In Europe, the on and offshore rig count totaled 90 for August, up 5 from July and 16 from August 1999. Meanwhile, Africa's rig count also moved up to 50 vs. 45 in July and 40 in August 1999.

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