By the OGJ Online Staff
HOUSTON, Mar. 23�US drilling activity increased slightly this week with a total 1,163 rotary rigs working across the country and in coastal waters, Baker Hughes Inc. officials reported Friday.
That�s 12 more rigs, including 9 land units, than the previous week and a strong increase from the 768 that were making hole a year ago.
Despite the recent decrease in oil prices, the number of US rigs drilling for oil increased by 7 to 256. Natural gas is still the driver, with 904 rigs drilling for that fuel this week, up 4 from last week. Three rigs were unclassified, one more than the previous week.
Texas led the increase with 465 rotary rigs working this week, 10 more than previously. Oklahoma�s rig count was up 8 to 139. Louisiana was down 5 to 220 active rigs. Wyoming lost 2 rigs, with 51 still working, while New Mexico had 71 active rigs, down 1.
With the seasonal thaw, Canada�s rig count dropped by 89 to 369 rotary rigs still working this week. That�s up slightly from 367 during the same period last year.
There was a net increase of three mobile offshore rigs under contract worldwide this week, the ODS-Petrodata Group reported Friday. With 571 units contracted out of a total fleet of 649, that pushed offshore rig utilization to 88%�the highest level since Oct. 2, 1998, when utilization was at 88.7%, said Tom Marsh, associate editor of that weekly study.
Activity in European waters remained unchanged at 92.1% utilization for the third consecutive week, with 93 rigs contracted out of 101 available. Utilization in the US Gulf of Mexico also was unchanged from last week at 88.1%, with 185 mobile offshore rigs contracted out of 210 available.
ODS-Petrodata also reported 248 platform rigs contracted out of 310 available worldwide, for 80% utilization.