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Rig Census: Specialty rigs to increase over next five years

Posted on 15 November 2010

The industry can look forward to an increase in specialty rigs over the next five years, Jeremy Thigpen, National Oilwell Varco president of downhole tools and pumping solutions, said in presenting highlights of the 57th NOV Annual Rig Census at the IADC Annual General Meeting in San Antonio, Texas, on 12 November. Mr Thigpen also noted that the US rig fleet had a net drop of just 16 rigs this year, declining less than 1% over 2009. This net decrease is the result of 243 rig additions and 259 rig deletions. Eighteen contractors responded to this year’s survey, which took place during the moratorium on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

US rig utilization is now 64%, meaning that 64% of all available rigs worked at least one day during the census period from May 5 to June 18.

US rig utilization is now 64%, meaning that 64% of all available rigs worked at least one day during the census period from May 5 to June 18.

The census noted that, in the US land fleet, 212 rigs were retired from service over the past year, and 131 newly manufactured rigs were the largest addition to the fleet in 2010. The number of active rigs increased to 2,024, up 60% from the 1,264 rigs in 2009. This year saw an increase in the number of rig owners to 324. “Rig ownership declined over the past 20 years either because of attrition or consolidation,” said Mr Thigpen. “Here recently we saw a bit of a spike, but for the last four years the number has held fairly steady.” Drilling contractors continue to own 86% of all drilling rigs, with operators owning the remaining 14%.

Utilization of US rigs rose significantly, up to 64% from 40% last year. Utilization last year was at 40%, the lowest it had been in 20 years, according to Mr Thigpen. This year’s number of 64% was a tremendous improvement, although slightly below the mean.

In Canada, the available rig fleet continued to shrink, declining to 795 units, down from 852 last year. The number of active rigs in Canada increased by 75%, to 334 versus 191 in 2009. Canadian rig utilization climbed to 42% over the past year after being just 22% in 2009. Rigs brought back into service in Canada numbered 35 units in 2010, significantly more than the number seen for the last several years. Overall, Canada saw a decline of 57 units in its fleet and an available rig count of 795, a drop of 7%.

The global offshore mobile available fleet expanded by 6% this year, with a net gain of 40 available rigs, primarily due to newbuilds. Forty rigs counted as new were added to the fleet. In addition to these newbuilds, six offshore rigs were reactivated in 2010. However, utilization of the global offshore fleet was down to 77% from 88% previously.

In the international rig count, most fleets experienced increases in utilization, with the exception of Latin America.

This year’s census notes that US activity is rebounding. While 212 rigs were removed service, 131 new rigs were added. “Efficiency of new rigs combined with asset utilization means that we can do more with less,” said Mr Thigpen. Remarking on the near-term outlook, Mr Thigpen said that more than half of the respondents said that they would increase the size of their fleet over the next five years and most suggested that they would do that with specialty type rigs and more technology.

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