API: U.S. Q1 Drilling, Completion Rate Up 4%

Drilling activity continues to increase in the U.S. exploration and production industry, according to API's first quarter 2008 drilling estimates that show drilling activity was twice the level of corresponding quarters during the 1990s.

"Strong oil and natural gas prices continue to encourage more drilling activity, even as federal policy limits access to non-park land and most of the Outer Continental Shelf for development," said Hazem Arafa, director of API's statistics department. "These numbers demonstrate the oil and natural gas industry's commitment to finding new sources of oil and gas to increase U.S. production."

According to API's 2008 Quarterly Well Completion Report: First Quarter, an estimated 13,497 oil wells, natural gas wells and dry holes were completed in the first quarter of 2008, up 4 percent from the first quarter a year ago.

API's estimates show that the resurgence in oil well completion activity that began in 2000 is continuing into 2008. An estimated 4,577 oil wells were completed in the first quarter of 2008, up 12 percent from last year's first quarter and the highest first quarter estimated oil activity since 1986.

Natural gas continues to be the primary target for domestic drilling, with an estimated 7,459 natural gas wells completed in the first three months of 2008. That was down 1 percent from last year's first quarter but nearly double the drilling activity of a decade ago.

Total estimated exploratory well completions, accounting for nearly 15 percent of total estimated well completions, increased 37 percent in the first quarter compared with the same quarter last year. Estimated exploratory natural gas wells and dry holes increased 60 and 20 percent, respectively, in the first quarter of 2008 compared with last year's first quarter.

API also reported total estimated footage of 79,804,000 feet drilled in the first quarter of 2008, a 1 percent increase from first-quarter 2007 and the highest estimated first quarter footage drilled ever.