US drilling activity dips slightly from 5-week high

Sam Fletcher
OGJ Senior Writer

HOUSTON, Dec. 13 -- US drilling activity dipped this week from a previous 5-week high. Officials at Baker Hughes Inc. reported 850 rotary rigs working in the US, 2 fewer than the previous week and down from 907 during the same period a year ago.

That decline was in inland waters operations, down 2 rigs to 15 this week. Land drilling was unchanged at 722 active rigs. Offshore operations were unchanged with 110 units working in the Gulf of Mexico and 113 in US waters as a whole.

Canada's rig count jumped by 58 to 382 this week, up strongly from 289 last year.

In the US, the number of rotary rigs drilling for oil declined by 9 to 133, while drilling for natural gas increased by 6 to 711. There were 6 rigs unclassified in this week's count, 1 more than the previous week. Directional drilling was down by 11 rigs to 212; horizontal drilling was unchanged at 55.

As usual, Texas had the most drilling activity, up 5 rigs this week to 368. Rig counts in Oklahoma and Alaska increased by 1 each to 95 and 9 units, respectively. Louisiana was unchanged, with 160 rotary rigs working.

New Mexico's rig count dipped by 3, with 50 units still working. Wyoming and California declined by 1 rig each to 37 and 22, respectively.

ODS-Petrodata, Houston, said Gulf of Mexico demand for mobile offshore rigs increased this week, with 3 more units under contract for a total of 136 out of an available fleet of 186 units. That bumped up the fleet utilization rate nearly two points to 73.1% in those waters.

There were 80 mobile offshore rigs under contract in European waters this week, one less than last week out of 101 available, for 79.2% utilization. Worldwide, drilling contractors registered a net increase of 4 mobile offshore rigs under contract to 544 out of a total fleet of 656. That raised global utilization of mobile offshore rigs to 82.9%

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