US drilling hits 5-week high, Gulf of Mexico demand increases

By OGJ editors

HOUSTON, Dec. 5 -- US drilling activity increased to the highest level in 5 weeks, up 17 units with 852 rotary rigs working this week, officials at Baker Hughes Inc. reported Friday.

That's down from 928 rigs that were making hole at this same time a year ago.

Land operations accounted for the bulk of that gain, up 14 units to 722 drilling. Offshore drilling increased by 3 rigs to 110 in the Gulf of Mexico and 113 for the total US. Activity in inland waters was unchanged, with 17 units working.

Canada had 324 rotary rigs working this week, 5 fewer than the previous week but up from 274 last year.

Among the US rigs working, 705 were drilling for natural gas, 10 more than the previous week. Those drilling for oil increased by 7 to 142. There were 5 rigs unclassified this week. Directional drilling increased by 5 units to 223. Horizontal drilling was down 1 to 55.

Texas led this week's increase, up 12 rigs with 363 at work. New Mexico's rig count jumped by 6 to 53.

Wyoming and California gained 1 rig each to 38 and 23, respectively. However, Oklahoma was down 4 to 94 this week, while Louisiana dropped 3 to 160. Alaska was unchanged with 8 rigs turning to the right.

Demand for mobile offshore rigs in the Gulf of Mexico hit a 4-month high this week, up 3 units to 133 contracted out of an available fleet of 186 for 71.5% tilization. "Demand in the region has not been this high since early August," officials at ODS-Petrodata, Houston, said Friday.

However, the number of mobile offshore rigs under contract in European waters declined by 2 to 81 while the rig fleet size dipped by 1 to 101, putting utilization at 80.2% in that market. Worldwide, there was no net change, with 540 offshore rigs contracted out of a total fleet of 656 for 82.3% utilization.

Meanwhile, Baker Hughes said Friday there was an average 760 rotary rigs working internationally during November, up 14 from October and up 19 from November 2001. The international offshore rig count increased to 237 in November, up 2 from October and up 17 from November 2001.

The US rig count averaged 834 in November, down 18 from October and down 166 from November 2001. The Canadian rig count in November was 281, up 61 from October and up 15 from November 2001.

Worldwide, an average 1,875 rotary rigs were working in November. That marked an increase of 57 from October but was down 132 from November 2001.

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