US weekly rig count declined, but offshore utilization increased

By the OGJ Online Staff

HOUSTON, Jan. 4 -- The number of rotary rigs drilling in the US and its waters continued to dribble away, down 4 to 883 this week -- well below the 1,107 units working during the same period in 2001 when the rig count was still climbing, Baker Hughes Inc. officials in Houston reported Friday.

The decline was in land operations, down 8 rigs to 735 this week. The number of offshore rigs in the process of drilling this week was up 2 to 121 in the Gulf of Mexico and 127 for all US offshore. Units working inland waters also gained 2 to 21.

Among the US rigs working this week, 744 were drilling for natural gas, 4 fewer than the previous week. Another 138 rotary rigs were drilling for oil, and 1 was unclassified.

Directional and horizontal drilling were down 3 rigs each this week to 229 and 69, respectively.

Texas led the decline with 377 rotary rigs working this week, a decline of 4. Rig counts in Wyoming, New Mexico, and California were down 1 each to 44, 38, and 30, respectively.

That was partly offset by an increase of 2 active rigs in Oklahoma, boosting that state's rig count to 71. Louisiana added 1 rig to 178, and Alaska also was up 1 to 15.

Canada had 293 rotary rigs working this week, a jump of 95 units. However, it too was well below the 489 units that were drilling during the same period a year ago.

ODS-Petrodata Group, Houston, reported a net increase of three mobile offshore rigs under contract in the Gulf of Mexico this week. That boosted the rig utilization rate in those waters by 2.1 points to 60.7% of the available fleet of 201.

In European waters, the number of rigs available and the number under contracts both increased by 2 this week, said ODS-Petrodata officials. One of those rigs was a new semisubmersible unit that began work off Norway. The utilization rate in those waters inched up to 93.3% of the 104-rig fleet.

Global utilization was 81.5% of the 654-rig fleet.

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