North American rig count soars on shale, unconventional development

By Phaedra Friend Troy

According to the weekly rig report from oilfield services firm Baker Hughes (NYSE:BHI), the number of rotary drilling rigs working onshore the United States and Canada has skyrocketed, with the nations adding 70 new land units this week.

There are currently 1,905 drilling rigs actively working onshore the US, an increase of 40 this week and a jump of 297 year over year. With 35 offshore rigs working, the US Gulf of Mexico lost one rig this week. Additionally, there are 19 inland water rigs active in the States.

As liquids-rich shale plays have emerged and oil prices have climbed, operators have shifted their drilling focus from natural gas to oil over the last year. Currently there are 1,055 rigs drilling for oil and 896 drilling for natural gas. At this time last year, there were 992 rigs drilling for gas and 636 rigs drilling for oil.

The majority of operators are drilling for shale and unconventional resources, a statistic represented by the type of well being drilled. There are 596 rigs drilling vertically, 240 rigs drilling directionally, and 1,123 rigs drilling horizontally. Horizontal wells are used to drill tight formations because they expose more of the formation to hydraulic fracturing or other enhanced recovery methods.

States with liquids-rich and oil shale plays are adding rigs at the fastest rate – including Texas, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Colorado.

Texas added 20 rigs this week. With 886 units actively drilling in the state, Texas saw an increase of 166 year over year. Operators are clamoring to drill and develop the vast shale and unconventional formations across Texas, including the Haynesville Shale, Barnett Shale, Eagle Ford Shale and Permian Basin, among others.

With various operators drilling the Bakken Shale, North Dakota added 14 rigs this week. An increase of 43 over the year, there are currently 175 rigs drilling in North Dakota – all of which are searching for oil.

With the Niobrara Shale, Colorado added seven new rigs to the state this week. Over the last year, nine rigs have been added, for a total of 74 active drilling rigs there.

While Oklahoma has historically been an exploration and production powerhouse, renewed interest in the state has flourish with development of the various unconventional formations there. In the last year, Oklahoma has added 61 rigs to have a total of 187 active rigs in the state.

Canada added 30 rigs this week, with 464 units actively drilling, which represent an increase of 69 year over year. Most of the rigs are drilling onshore, with two rigs active offshore Newfoundland. Alberta has 297 active rigs, an increase of 23 this week. With 104 active drilling rigs, Saskatchewan added two rigs this week and 19 rigs year over year. British Columbia also added four rigs, with 51 active units in the province.



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