Today's Trends: U.S. Shale Activity Picks Up Pace

In the ongoing U.S. land drilling recovery, activity in key shale plays is rallying at an impressive pace.

In the chart above, we analyze the rig count for select states characterized by significant high growth shale play acreage compared to the overall count, indexing both rig counts to 100 in January 2008.

The shale state rig count index, which represents unconventional drilling activity in key basins, held up much better than the overall U.S. rig count index in the downturn (declining only about half as much). Furthermore, the shale rig index has more than doubled since the bottom -- a much more significant rally than the 65% recovery for the broader market.

As we predicted in our recent 2010 Q1 Land Rig Review, the North Dakota rig count recently broke through its previous record high thanks to the frenzied pace of rig hiring in the Bakken Shale. Exploration and development activity in hot shale plays like the Bakken, Haynesville and Marcellus appears poised to continue to outpace the more conventional areas.