Robust natural gas market drives US rig fleet renewal

US drilling activity has been a roller coaster ride over the past 4 years. As activity climbed steadily through 1997, it appeared the industry was returning to boom times with more than 1,000 rigs at work. By April 1999, however, following the collapse of oil to 1986 prices and an erosion in natural gas prices, the rig count had fallen to 496-the lowest US rig count in the 50 years for which there are reliable records. Offshore drilling rigs fell to less than 100 and active land rigs, to 385. Just 125 rigs were drilling for oil, and 371 were targeting gas reserves. The US rig count has recently reached a monthly average of 1,278, including 156 offshore and 1,100 on land, with 219 drilling...

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