US drilling activity falls to 26-week low

US drilling activity dropped to the lowest level in 26 weeks with 826 rotary rigs working, down 28 from the previous week and well below the 1,010 units drilling during the same period a year ago.

By OGJ editors

HOUSTON, Nov. 8 -- US drilling activity this week dropped to the lowest level in 26 weeks with 826 rotary rigs working, down 28 from the previous week and well below the 1,010 units that were drilling during the same period a year ago, Baker Hughes Inc. officials reported Friday.

Losses were reported in every major category. The number of US land rigs working dropped by 22 to 696 during the week. Offshore drilling was down 4 rigs to108 in the Gulf of Mexico and down by 5 to 110 rigs still working in US waters as a whole. Activity in inland waters dropped by 1 rig to 20.

The number of US rigs drilling for gas was down 19 to 673 this week, with no sign that the weakness in that market is abating. The number of rigs drilling for oil declined by 9 to 149. Of the total rigs working, 4 were unclassified. Directional drilling was down 10 units to 209. Another 62 rigs were doing horizontal drilling, 1 less than last week.

At least some of the loss likely was weather-related. Texas, where more than a week of rain flooded portions of the state, lost 15 rigs with 330 still working. Snow-blown Wyoming was down 6 rigs to 37. Louisiana, which caught some of the aftermath of rainstorms that blew through Texas, had 164 rigs working, 4 fewer than the previous week. Alaska's rig count was down 3 units to 7.

On the positive side, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and California added 1 rig each, boosting their counts to 93, 53, and 23, respectively.

Canada had 262 rotary rigs working this week, 7 more than the previous week but still slightly below the 270 active at this same time last year.

Although the number of US rigs actually drilling offshore was down this week, the number under contract in the Gulf of Mexico was unchanged at 124, said officials at ODS-Petrodata, Houston. However, 2 units left those waters, reducing the available rig fleet to 187 and pushing up the utilization rate to 66.3.

Activity was unchanged in European waters, with 85 mobile offshore rigs contracted out of a fleet of 102, for 83.3% utilization. Worldwide, the number of mobile offshore rigs under contract increased by 3 to 535 out of a total fleet of 657. That triggered a slight rise in utilization to 81.4%.

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