US drilling hits 19-year seasonal high

By OGJ editors

HOUSTON, Jan. 14 -- US drilling activity increased by 16 units with 1,258 rotary rigs working this week, the highest rig count for the first month of a new year since 1986, when US drilling started the year with 1,915 active rigs, dropped to 1,880 in the second week, and tumbled to a summer low of 663.

The latest US rig count is only 10 less than last year's peak on Nov. 28 and up from 1,127 a year ago, which was the previous highest level for the second week of January since 1986, reported Baker Hughes Inc. on Jan. 14.

Unlike 1986, US and world demand for crude and natural gas generally is expected to continue to grow in 2005, buoying up both commodity prices and drilling activity.

US land operations accounted for all of this week's growth, up by 19 rotary rigs to 1,136 working. Offshore drilling dipped by 3 units to 98 in the Gulf of Mexico and 103 in US waters as a whole. Drilling in inland waters was unchanged with 19 rotary rigs employed.

In Canada, drilling activity jumped by 87 rotary rigs with 548 working this week, down from 563 during the same period last year.

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