Drilling Activity Up in 2010 But Below 2008 Levels - API

U.S. oil and natural gas drilling in 2010 remained below 2008 levels, according to API's 2010 Quarterly Well Completion Report: Fourth Quarter. An estimated 10,487 oil wells, natural gas wells and dry holes were completed in the fourth quarter of 2010, up 37 percent from 2009's fourth quarter though still well below 2008 levels. In 2010, a total of 37,892 wells were drilled, up 12 percent from 2009 but down almost 33 percent from 2008.

"While there was an uptick in drilling levels in 2010, the levels are still far below those of 2008," said Hazem Arafa, director of API's statistics department. "As the nation continues to struggle with a weak economy, the oil and natural gas industry has shown that it is willing and able to increase production to meet growing energy demand and put people back to work. With public policies that provide opportunity for responsible exploration and production as well as the certainty needed for any business to succeed, we can and will accelerate job creation and economic growth throughout the economy."

API estimates show that the resurgence in oil well completion activity that began earlier in the decade continues as an estimated 5,715 oil wells were drilled in the fourth quarter of 2010, a 65 percent increase from year-ago levels. API also reported the total estimated footage of 69,165,000 feet drilled in the fourth quarter of 2010, a 45 percent increase from fourth quarter 2009.

For most of this decade, natural gas has been the primary target for domestic drilling. For the first time since 1996, the estimated number of oil wells drilled in 2010 outnumbers gas wells (19,451 to 14,324).

API represents more than 450 oil and natural gas companies, leaders of a technology-driven industry that supplies most of America's energy, supports more than 9.2 million U.S. jobs and 7.5 percent of the U.S. economy, and, since 2000, has invested nearly $2 trillion in U.S. capital projects to advance all forms of energy, including alternatives.