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Operators Move Rigs to 69 New Counties Nationally Last Week

If you're looking for the newest hotspot for onshore oil and gas development anywhere in the United States, from a target within the emerging Mississippian Lime of Oklahoma and Kansas to a new location in the more established Marcellus Shale of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, NGI's Shale Daily has a new resource to help identify drilling trends.

According to SmithBits data, the number of oil and gas rigs at work in the United States totaled 1,785 for the week ending Oct. 19, down from 1,793 rigs the week before. However, that slight 0.4% week-over-week decline masks the amount of turnover that can occur in the total rig count. For example, the SmithBits data show that operators moved 69 rigs into counties last week in which those operators were not drilling the week before.

"There are a variety of reasons rigs may have moved from week to week," said Patrick Rau, NGI director of strategy and research. "Operators may have just skidded a rig to continue drilling a formation that was near a county border, or there could be rigs that are in place to continue delineating existing acreage positions. However, some of those rigs may represent wildcatting efforts in a new or stealth play for the various companies."

As an example of identifying trends, operators BP, Laredo Petroleum and Upland Resources all moved rigs into Hemphill County, TX, for the week ending Oct. 19. Also during the week, COG Petroleum, Discovery Operating, Occidental Petroleum and Parsley Engineering all moved rigs into Midland County, TX.

Rau was careful to note that just because a company began drilling in a new county last week, does not mean that area is new to the company. "For example, the data show Continental Resources had rigs in the North Dakota counties of Dunn and Mountrail last week, versus none the prior week. But they have certainly drilled in those counties before," Rau said. He said, however, that monitoring such data over time may help yield clues about developing new exploration areas within the United States.

For questions about these data, which are shown in the accompanying chart, or to inquire about other rig count breakouts, including data listed by operator, contractor, county, state or resource play, e-mail NGI's Shale Daily team at analytics@shaledaily.com.

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