Increases in onshore, gas drilling help to boost US rig count slightly

By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, Apr. 19 -- Increases in drilling onshore and gas drilling have helped to strengthen the US rig count for the second week in a row. US drilling activity increased by 2 rigs this week, with 749 rigs reported working in the US and its waters, Houston-based Baker Hughes Inc. said Friday. The US active rig count stood at 1,213 a year ago.

Rig counts were lower this week for offshore and oil drilling. In the US, there were 630 land rigs, up 5 from a week ago. The number of units drilling in inland waters rose to 17, up 1 from last week.

There were 102 rigs drilling in the US offshore sector, 4 less than a week ago, and rigs drilling in the Gulf of Mexico dropped below 100, reaching 99, down 4. A year ago, there were 168 rigs drilling in the US offshore sector and 162 working in the gulf.

The number of mobile offshore rigs available for work in the gulf decreased by 1 to 199 this week, reported ODS-Petrodata Group, Houston. The number of rigs under contract also declined, down 1 to 123. The rig utilization rate stood at 61.8%, down 0.2 points from a week ago. A year ago, there were 211 rigs available for work in the gulf with an 89.6% utilization rate.

"Only 4 of the industry's 20 lower-end semisubmersibles. . .are working in the Gulf of Mexico," noted Banc of America Securities LLC analyst James K. Wicklund. Although the utilization of jack ups in the gulf is improving, Wicklund said. "[Gulf of Mexico] jack up utilization continues to improve, now standing at 65% compared to 50% in November; premium jack up utilization is near 100%, and we are beginning to see slight increases in day rates for premium jack ups," he said.

The total number of US rotary rigs drilling for natural gas was up by 3 to 613 this week, Baker Hughes said. There were 134 rigs drilling for oil, down 1 from a week ago. Two rigs were unclassified.

The number of rigs involved in directional drilling was down 8 to 204. Those rigs drilling horizontal wells reached 56 this week, down 3.

Oklahoma led the US gains, up 7 rigs to 75. Louisiana and Alaska were both down, 12 and 2, to 146 and 11, respectively. California and New Mexico were up 2 rigs each, to 23 and 34, respectively. Texas was up 1 rig to 307 and Wyoming was down 4 rigs to 30.

In Canada, the rig count dropped below 100, reaching 96, or 31 fewer rigs working than the previous week.

ODS-Petrodata reported that, worldwide, the number of mobile offshore rigs under contract remained flat for the week at 520 out of a total fleet of 654 rigs. The worldwide fleet utilization rate stood at 79.5%, up 0.1 point from a week ago.

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