Oil Drilling Outpaces Natural Gas Drilling in the U.S.

by Kenneth E. DuBose on August 18, 2011

The oil rig count has surpassed the natural gas rig count in all polls and don’t expect that to change without higher natural gas prices. We’re experiencing a renaissance in oil drilling that might create hundreds of thousands of jobs and grow U.S. oil production by millions of barrels per day over the next decade. This is the first time the oil rig count has surpassed the gas rig count since 1995, with a total of more than 1,000 rigs drilling for oil in the onshore U.S. The boom isn’t local to traditional areas like West Texas, but is impacting less traditional areas like the North Dakota Bakken Shale, Ohio’s Utica Shale, and the South Texas Eagle Ford Shale. With strong well results, all of the aforementioned will likely provide drilling inventories that last for years to come.

For the first time in 18 years, the number of oil rigs working in the U.S. has exceeded the number of natural gas rigs, according to July rig data compiled by IHS-CERA, covering both land and offshore rigs.

By 2020 this surge in oil drilling could increase U.S. oil production by as much as 3 million barrels per day, Peter Stark, head of IHS-CERA’s industry relations said Wednesday during a session launching the start of Summer NAPE, the semi-annual oil and gas prospects expo being held in Houston.

Two factors are spurring the surge in oil production. The combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, which has unlocked previously inaccessible gas, also has opened up new possibilities for oil production. Relatively low natural gas prices have prompted companies to focus exploration efforts on more valuable oil and natural gas liquids.

And on June 24 the number of rigs drilling for oil surpassed the 1,000 mark for the first time since 1987.

Read the full news release at chron.com

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