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API: Natural Gas Drilling Set Record in 2006

Natural gas drilling activity set annual and fourth-quarter records in 2006, the American Petroleum Institute (API) said in a report released Tuesday.

API reported an estimated all-time high of 29,356 gas wells were completed in 2006, of which 7,482 well completions occurred in the fourth quarter, a record for quarterly drilling activity in the United States.

All told, API said that 49,375 oil wells, natural gas wells and dry holes were completed last year, reaching the highest level in 21 years. The fourth quarter's estimated 12,439 well completions were the highest since the first quarter of 1986, the oil and gas industry group said.

API said that the resurgence in oil well completion activity that began in 2000 continued into 2006. At 15,346 estimated wells, 2006 oil well completion activity exceeded that of every year in this decade and every year in the 1990s, it noted.

The total estimated footage drilled in 2006 was the highest in more than two decades, according to API. Approximately 289,959,000 feet was drilled last year and 74,439,000 feet was drilled in the fourth quarter alone, the group said.

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