US drilling activity declines by 15 rigs

By OGJ editors

HOUSTON, Aug. 23 -- US drilling activity declined this week, down 15 rotary rigs with 838 still working, officials at Baker Hughes Inc. in Houston reported Friday.

That's down from 1,251 rigs that were working during the same period a year ago. It marks the second consecutive week of declines, following a 1-rig loss the previous week. The seasonal uptick in US drilling topped out 7 weeks ago with 862 rotary rigs at work, but the highest rig count for the year came in the first week of 2002 when 883 rotary rigs were working in the US and its waters.

There were 242 rotary rigs working in Canada this week, 23 more than the previous week but down from 360 a year ago.

Land operations led the US decline this week, down 12 rigs with 713 still working. Offshore activity was down 2 rigs to 107 in the Gulf of Mexico and down 3 to 112 for the entire US. The number of US rigs working inland waters was unchanged at 16 this week.

Among US rigs, the number drilling for oil declined by 9 to 124, while those drilling for natural gas lost 5 to 713. One rig remained unclassified, compared with two the previous week. Directional drilling was down 2 rigs to 227, while horizontal activity lost 3 rigs to 54.

Texas led this week's decline, with 9 fewer rigs working, at 334. New Mexico's rig count was down 5 to 37, while Oklahoma had 103 active rigs, 3 less than previously. California was down 2 rigs to 18, and Louisiana had 163 working, 1 less than last week.

Among the major producing states, the only gains were in Wyoming, up 3 to 44; and Alaska, which added 1 for a total of 9 rigs working.

However, ODS-Petrodata Group, Houston, reported two more mobile offshore rigs under contract in the Gulf of Mexico this week. That increased the utilization rate by one point to 66%, with 130 rigs contracted out of the 197 available in those waters.

Rig demand also improved in European waters, where one more rig is under contract this week. That market is at 84.6% utilization, with 88 units contracted out of the 104 available, ODS-Petrodata said.

Worldwide, the total number of contracted rigs was unchanged at 529 units, but the total fleet size decreased by 1 unit to 657, triggering a slight rise in total utilization to 80.5%, ODS-Petrodata reported.

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