US drilling activity falls by 40 rigs

By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, Jan. 23 -- US drilling activity plummeted this week, down by 40 units from last week's 27-month high, with 1,087 rotary rigs still working, officials at Baker Hughes Inc. reported Friday.

That compares with 862 rotary rigs that were drilling in the US and its waters during the same period in 2003.

This week's reduction impacted all three areas of activity. Land drilling was down by 32 rigs to 971 working. Offshore drilling dipped by 3 units to 98 in the Gulf of Mexico and by 5 rigs to 99 in US offshore waters as a whole. Inland water activity lost 3 rigs to 17.

In Canada, there were 576 rotary rigs working this week, 13 more than last week and up from 528 a year ago.

Among US rigs, the number drilling for natural gas fell by 34 to 946. There were 137 rigs drilling for oil this week, 8 fewer than the previous week. The number of unclassified rigs increased by 2 to 4. Directional drilling declined by 21 rigs to 267, but horizontal drilling increased by 7 to 96.

Texas and New Mexico led this week's fall, down by 9 rigs each to respective counts of 457 and 61. Louisiana and California each lost 8 rigs to 155 and 18, respectively. Alaska declined by 2 rigs to 8 still drilling. Rig counts in Oklahoma and Wyoming were unchanged at 146 and 71, respectively.

The number of mobile offshore rigs under contract in the Gulf of Mexico increased by 2 to 122 out of an available fleet of 163, boosting utilization to 74.8%, said officials Friday at ODS-Petrodata Consulting & Research, Houston.

In European waters, the number of contracted rigs was unchanged at 76, but the fleet size decreased by 2 units to 96, raising utilization to 79.2% in those waters.

Worldwide, there was a net gain of 4 mobile offshore rigs under contract to 530 this week, while the total fleet decreased by 1 to 654. That boosted global utilization among offshore rigs to 81%.

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