US onshore drilling rig count soars, Texas and North Dakota see biggest increases

By Phaedra Friend Troy

Likely boosted by ramped up drilling in the various shale plays across the country, the number of drilling rigs contracted for work in the US spiked this week.

Baker Hughes (NYSE:BHI) reported today that the number of drilling rigs contracted onshore the US jumped by 35 this week to 1,640 rigs working on US soil. A substantial increase over last year, there were only 968 drilling rigs working at the same time in 2009.

Of the land rigs working in the US, there are nearly 640 drilling for oil and nearly 1,000 drilling for natural gas. More than 220 of the rigs are drilling directionally, while nearly 900 are drilling horizontal wells.

Improvements in directional and horizontal drilling techniques, as well as hydraulic fracturing methods, have boosted shale exploration and development in the US.

The states seeing the biggest jump in the number of rigs working in them are Texas and North Dakota. Additionally, the states with the most rigs drilling in them are Texas with 720, Louisiana with 184, North Dakota with 132 and Oklahoma with 126.

The home of Spindletop continues to produce, and operators are flocking to its prolific shale plays, including Eagle Ford, Barnett and Haynesville Shale, within the Texas borders.

Furthermore, North Dakota is experiencing a massive influx of oil and gas operations, including drilling and development because of its Bakken Shale play. In fact, this many rigs have not been drilling in the state since the 1980s, when the most rigs ever was 148 units in 1981.

Additionally, the number of land rigs working in Canada climbed six this week to 395 rigs. This is an increase of 255 rigs year over year.

Offshore the US, the number of drilling rigs working in the Gulf of Mexico climbed three to 20 rigs, which is down 11 year over year.

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