API: Drilling, Completion Estimates Highest Since 1986

US oil and natural gas drilling estimates for 2006 show that activity remains robust with nearly twice the level of activity recorded during the lows of the early to mid-1990s, API said.

According to API's 2006 Quarterly Well Completion Report: Fourth Quarter, a 21-year high estimated 49,375 oil wells, natural gas wells and dry holes were completed in 2006. The fourth quarter's estimated 12,439 completions were the highest since first quarter 1986.

In 2006, natural gas remains the main driver of the US E&P industry. An estimated all-time high of 29,356 natural gas wells were completed in 2006„Ÿan estimated 7,482 of those in the fourth quarter, an all-time quarter high for natural gas drilling activity in the U.S.

API's estimates show 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.

In 2006, exploratory oil well estimates rose for the fourth straight year to 932„Ÿa 20-year high. The fourth quarter estimate of 301 wells was the highest since first quarter 1986.

API also reported that total estimated footage drilled in 2006 was the highest in more than two decades. According to API estimates, some 289,959,000 feet was drilled in 2006 and 74,439,000 feet was drilled in the fourth quarter alone.