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The rig count in all areas of the world continues to improve, primarily because of strong gas prices and stable oil prices (Figs. 1 and 2).
Higher average gas prices have driven this increase. Natural gas: prices tend to drive North American offshore drilling activity, including the shallow waters in the Gulf of Mexico. Oil prices, however, tend to drive international offshore drilling and deepwater and subsalt projects in the Gulf of Mexico.
Total worldwide offshore rig utilization was 91% this summer, compared to 86% last summer. By rig type, semisubmersibles have a 94% utilization; barges, 93%; jack ups, 91%; drillships, 83%; barges 75%; and arctic rigs, 50%. Effective offshore rig utilization has reached 100% in several regions throughout the year.
The international (all noncommunist countries excluding Canada, the former Soviet Union, and the U.S.) rig count averaged 815 in July, up from an average of 759 last year. The U.S. rig count averaged 784 in July, up from an average of 723 last year. The Canadian rig count averaged 291 in July, up from an average of 231 last year (Fig. 3). The worldwide total number of rigs drilling was 1,890.
The Baker Hughes Inc. rig count projections for 1996 are 794 for international regions, 766 for the U.S., and 274 for Canada. The projections for 1997 are 815 for international regions, 850 for the U.S., and 281 for Canada.
In the major international regions, the Middle East had 138 rigs working--31 offshore and 107 onshore. Europe had 126 rigs drilling--59 offshore and 67 onshore. The Asia Pacific area had 192 rigs working--65 offshore and 127 onshore. Africa had 76 rigs drilling--31 offshore and 45 onshore. Latin America had 283 rigs drilling--61 offshore and 222 onshore.
Offshore drilling activity has been relatively strong in the Gulf of Mexico, primarily because of strong gas prices (Fig. 4).
The U.S. offshore has averaged 107 drilling rigs this year, up from 98 last year. Drilling activity in U.S. inland waters has held steady at about 17 rigs, up two from last year. The Gulf of Mexico is a major natural gas province, which accounts for 16% of U.S. proved natural gas reserves and 26% of U.S. natural gas production. About 94% of the mobile drilling rigs in the Gulf of Mexico are drilling for gas, …