API: 'U.S.' Third Quarter Drilling Activity Up 34% from Last Year'

American Petroleum Institute

The U.S. exploration and production industry’s drilling activity continues to outpace last year's levels and is nearly twice the level seen in the 1990s, according to API's third quarter 2008 drilling estimates.

"These numbers demonstrate the oil and natural gas industry's commitment to finding new sources of oil and natural gas to increase U.S. production," said Hazem Arafa, Director of API's statistics department.

According to API's 2008 Quarterly Well Completion Report: Third Quarter, an estimated 16,379 oil wells, natural gas wells and dry holes were completed in the third quarter of 2008, up 16 percent from the third 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 6,244 oil wells were completed in the third quarter of 2008, up 34 percent from last year's third quarter and the highest third quarter estimated oil activity in over two decades.

Natural gas continues to be the primary target for domestic drilling, with an estimated 8,467 natural gas wells completed in the third quarter of 2008. That was up 6 percent from last year's third quarter and over double the natural gas drilling activity of a decade ago.

Total estimated exploratory well completions increased 8 percent in the third quarter compared with the same quarter last year. Exploratory wells are used by the industry to find oil or natural gas in an unproven area or to find a new reservoir in a field previously found to be productive.

Total estimated development well completions increased 17 percent from the corresponding quarter a year ago, largely due to a surge in estimated development oil wells, which were up 36 percent in the third quarter of 2008 compared with last year's third quarter. Development wells are used to either start or increase production of oil or natural gas from a proven field, and occur after a successful exploratory well.

API also reported total estimated footage of 107.631 million feet drilled in the third quarter of 2008, a 26 percent increase from third quarter 2007 and the highest estimated third quarter footage drilled ever. Estimated oil well footage drilled was up 40 percent from last year's third quarter.