US drilling activity continues slow recovery

By OGJ editors

HOUSTON, May 24 -- US drilling activity continued to improve, with 859 rotary rigs working this week, officials at Backer Hughes Inc. reported Friday.

That's 30 rigs more than the previous week but still well below the 1,262 units that were drilling during the same period last year. Canada registered an even bigger jump, up 36 rigs to 134 drilling this week, compared with 263 last year.

The latest US increase was spread over the three major rig divisions, with land rigs showing the biggest hike—up 22 to 731. The number of rigs actually drilling offshore increased by seven to 107 in the Gulf of Mexico and 110 for the US as a whole. Units working inland waters were up 1 to 18.

Natural gas is still driving the recovery, with 725 US rigs drilling for gas this week, 29 more than last week. Another 132 rigs were drilling for oil, 1 more than the previous week. There were 2 active rigs that remained unclassified.

The number of rigs involved in directional drilling increased by 14 to 231. Those doing horizontal drilling were unchanged at 64.

Texas led this week's increase, up 13 rigs to 333 drilling. Louisiana was up 10 to 163. Weekly rig counts in Oklahoma and Wyoming improved by 1 each to 105 and 39, respectively. New Mexico was down 1 rig to 38. California and Alaska were unchanged at 26 and 11, respectively.

ODS-Petrodata Group, Houston, reported the number of mobile offshore rigs under contract in the Gulf of Mexico was unchanged this week at 127 out of the 198 available, for an utilization rate of 64.1%

However, rig utilization in European waters declined by nearly a full point to 85.6% with 1 less rig under contract in that market. That left 127 mobile offshore units under contract out of the 104 available.

Nevertheless, there was a net increase of 1 rig under contract worldwide this week. That put global utilization of mobile offshore rigs at 80.2% with 527 contracted out of the total 657 available.

Meanwhile, Baker Hughes reported an average of 726 rotary rigs working in international markets, both on land and offshore, during April. That was down 8 rigs, 1%, from the previous month of March and down 16, 2%, from April 2001.

The US rig count for April averaged 750, down 13 from March and 456 from April 2001. Canada's April rig count was 121, down 190 units from March and 96 from April 2001.

The number of rotary rigs working worldwide averaged 1,597 in April, said Baker Hughes officials. That compares with averages of 1,808 in March, and 2,165 in April 2001.

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