API: U.S. Oil, Gas Drilling Activity Hits Two-Decade High In Q2

High oil prices continue to stoke U.S. drilling activity as first-half 2006 data reveals nearly twice the level of activity recorded during the lows of the early to mid-1990s, the American Petroleum Institute reported.

According to API's 2006 Quarterly Well Completion Report: Second Quarter, a 20-year high estimated 24,729 oil wells, natural gas wells and dry holes were completed in the first half of 2006. In the second quarter of 2006 alone, there were an estimated 12,681 completions, the highest single quarter estimate since the first quarter of 1986.

Overall, natural gas is the primary target for domestic drilling. Strong year-to-year gains in the last decade have resulted in best-ever natural gas drilling and completion numbers. An estimated all-time high of 14,784 natural gas wells were completed in the first six months of 2006 „Ÿ an estimated 7,489 of those in the second quarter.

While gains are strongest for natural gas completions, oil well completions have started ramping back up to levels not seen since the late 1980fs. In the first half of 2006, an estimated 7,265 oil wells were completed, an estimated 3,795 were completed in the second quarter.

Quarter-to-quarter comparisons show total completions in the second quarter of 2006 increased 14 percent compared with the same period of 2005. Oil well completions rose 21 percent, natural gas completions were up 10 percent and dry hole completions increased 12 percent above year-ago levels.

API also reported total estimated footage drilled in the first half and the 2nd quarter of 2006 at 136,806 feet and 70,055 feet respectively. The last time estimated total footage drilled was this high was back in 1985.

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