Gulf of Mexico rig utilization hits 2-year high

Utilization of mobile offshore rigs hit a 2-year high in the Gulf of Mexico, officials at Houston-based Offshore Data Services reported Friday. Meanwhile, in Washington, DC, Thursday, the US Minerals Management Service (MMS) reported a record 34 rigs working the deep waters of the gulf, in depths of 1,000 ft or more.


Utilization of mobile offshore rigs hit a 2-year high in the Gulf of Mexico, officials at Houston-based Offshore Data Services reported Friday. Meanwhile, in Washington, DC, Thursday, the US Minerals Management Service (MMS) reported a record 34 rigs working the deep waters of the gulf, which it defines as 1,000 ft or more.

"This level of deepwater oil and gas activity has never been reached before. It illustrates the tremendous level of economic activity that is flowing into the deepwater portion of the Gulf of Mexico," said Walt Rosenbusch, director of the MMS, which manages federal offshore leases.

"Just last year, there were only 26 rigs working in the deep water," he said.

Moreover, Rosenbusch said, "Several companies have filed plans for additional deepwater drilling later this year, so it is possible that the record will soon be broken again."

Of the 204 total offshore rigs available for work in the gulf, 175 are now under contract�4 more than the previous week�for a utilization level of 85.9%, said Offshore Data Services officials. Rig utilization in European waters remained at 87.3%, with 89 rigs contracted out of a fleet of 102.

Worldwide, 5 more offshore rigs were working, boosting total utilization to 83.3% with 535 mobile offshore rigs under contract out of a total fleet of 642.

Baker Hughes Inc. reported a total of 950 rotary rigs working in the US and its waters for the week ended Friday. That's up from 928 the previous week. Canada had 306 rotary rigs working, up from 288 the previous week.

Independents are drilling 13 of the 34 deepwater wells in the gulf, said MMS officials.

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