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North American Gas Drilling Moving Fast, Furious

North American Gas Drilling Moving Fast, Furious

Drilling has picked up to a frenzied pace as active natural gas rig numbers continue to skyrocket in the United States and Canada. Rotary rigs drilling int he United States soared by 20 last week to a new record of 736 active gas drilling rigs, according to Baker Hughes' Rig Count report. Currently there are 235 more domestic rigs actively drilling than at the same time last year.

Canada is experiencing a sizeable expansion as well. Canada's average oil & gas rig count for the month of June was 301 active rigs. The figure is among the top five June averages for Canada over the past 36 years, according to the Baker Hughes report. It also represents a 114 rig increase over the June 1999 average. Canada's week total that ended last Friday was up 18 rigs from the week before to end at 306. Houston-based Baker Hughes has been keeping track of the rig count since 1944.

The Gulf of Mexico's rig count dropped by three in last week's report, but the number of rigs drilling deepwater in the Gulf of Mexico is experiencing a record high. The Department of the Interior's Minerals Management Services (MMS) announced late last week that deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico had reached an all time high of 34 active rigs.

"This level of deepwater oil and gas activity has never been reached before," said MMS Director Walt Rosenbusch. "It illustrates the tremendous level of economic activity that is flowing into the deepwater portion of the Gulf of Mexico. Just last year, there were only 26 rigs working in deepwater."

Independent oil and gas companies are becoming involved more and more in deepwater drilling, which MMS defines as 1,000 feet of water or deeper. 13 of the 34 wells were drilled by independent companies, including Conoco, Marathon, Anadarko, Kerr-McGee, Amerada Hess, Mariner Energy and McMoRan.

"Several companies have filed plans for additional deepwater drilling later this year, so it is possible that the record will soon be broken again. We have seen the level of drilling and production continue to rise, and this confirms that deepwater Gulf of Mexico is America's emerging frontier," Rosenbusch added.

Alex Steis

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