U.S. Drilling Activity Falls Nearly 50% from a Year Ago

For the second quarter in a row, drilling activity in the U.S. exploration and production industry fell to levels not seen since 2003-2004, according to API's second-quarter 2009 drilling estimates. According to API's 2009 Quarterly Well Completion Report: Second Quarter, an estimated 8,038 oil wells, natural gas wells and dry holes were completed in the second quarter of 2009, down 46 percent from 2008's second quarter.

"The U.S. drilling decline that began last quarter in connection with the current downturn in economic activity has continued in earnest in the second quarter of 2009 as companies proceed with caution in an uncertain year," said Hazem Arafa, director of API's statistics department.

The estimated number of second-quarter exploratory oil and gas wells drilled plunged 63 percent from 2008 to 336 wells, while the number of second-quarter development oil and gas wells slipped 46 percent to 6,761 wells in 2009, the report found.

While natural gas continues to be the primary target for domestic drilling, with an estimated 4,225 natural gas wells completed in the second quarter of 2009, activity was down 43 percent from 2008's second quarter, the most severe quarterly decline this decade.

Oil well completion activity, meanwhile, continued to subside, with total estimated oil well completions in second-quarter 2009 falling 53 percent below year-ago levels.

API also reported total estimated footage of 48.1 million feet drilled in the second quarter of 2009, a 53 percent decline from second-quarter 2008.