US drilling activity hits new year slump

By OGJ editors

HOUSTON, Jan. 3 -- US drilling activity slumped into the new year, down 25 rotary rigs to 837 working this week, officials at Baker Hughes Inc. reported Friday.

That was down from 883 during the same period a year ago, which was the peak number of active rigs for all of 2002.

The biggest loss was in land drilling, down 26 rigs with 702 working this week. Offshore drilling was down 1 unit to 107 in the Gulf of Mexico and 110 for the US as a whole. Drilling in inland waters increased by 2 rigs to 25.

Canada's drilling activity jumped by 67 rigs to 344 this week, up from 293 a year ago.

In the US, drilling for natural gas declined by 16 units to 706. Drilling for oil dropped by 9 rigs to 136, even as oil prices hit a 2-year high in the commodities market. Four rigs remained unclassified. Directional drilling declined by 1 rig to 224. Horizontal drilling also was down 1 to 57.

Texas led the fall, down 16 units with 363 rotary rigs working. Wyoming's rig count was down 6 to 28, while California was unchanged at 19. All of the other major producing states were down 2 rigs each to 165 in Louisiana, 100 in Oklahoma, 44 in New Mexico, and 9 in Alaska.

ODS-Petrodata, Houston, said Friday 132 mobile offshore rigs remained under contract in the Gulf of Mexico this week, although the total available fleet was reduced by 1 unit to 185. That slightly boosted the fleet utilization rate to 71.4% in those waters.

In European waters, the number of contracted rigs was unchanged at 79 while the fleet was increased by 1 rig to 101. That lowered the utilization rate to 78.2%.

Worldwide, the number of contracted mobile offshore rigs decreased by 1 to 532 out of a total available fleet of 656, for a global utilization rate of 81.1%.

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