Rig Count FAQs

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The Baker Hughes North American Rotary Rig Count is a weekly census of the number of drilling rigs actively exploring for or developing oil or natural gas in the United States and Canada.

A rotary rig rotates the drill pipe from surface to drill a new well (or sidetracking an existing one) to explore for, develop and produce oil or natural gas. The Baker Hughes Rotary Rig count includes only those rigs that are significant consumers of oilfield services and supplies and does not include cable tool rigs, very small truck mounted rigs or rigs that can operate without a permit. Non-rotary rigs may be included in the count based on how they are employed. For example, coiled tubing and workover rigs employed in drilling new wells are included in the count.

To be counted as active a rig must be on location and be drilling or 'turning to the right'. A rig is considered active from the moment the well is "spudded" until it reaches target depth or "TD". Rigs that are in transit from one location to another, rigging up or being used in non-drilling activities such as workovers, completions or production testing, are NOT counted as active.

In international areas, rigs are counted on a weekly basis and deemed active if drilling activities occurred during the majority of the week. The weekly results are averaged for the month and published each month. A rig is considered drilling if it is turning to the right (i.e. the well is underway but has not reached the target depth or T.D.). Rigs that are in transit from one location to another, rigging up, or are being used in non-drilling activities including production testing, completion, and workovers are not included in the active rig count.

Baker Hughes field representatives maintain frequent contact with all operating rigs in their district, whether or not they are using Baker Hughes drill bits.

North America Rotary Rig Count (Jan 2000 – Current) – a detailed Excel file with 8 tabs, as described below. Published each Friday at noon central U.S. time.

  • Current Weekly Summary
  • US Land & Offshore Split by State
  • US Count by Basin (From February 2011 to Current Only)
  • US Oil & Gas Split
  • US Count by Trajectory
  • Gulf of Mexico Split
  • Canada Land & Offshore Split by Province
  • Canada Oil & Gas Split

North America Rotary Rig Count Pivot Table (Feb 2011 – Current) – a detailed Excel file in a dynamic pivot table format which includes the data described below by week.  Published each Friday at noon central U.S. time.

  • Country, State, County, Basin, Drill For Type, Location, Trajectory, Well Type, Well Depth, Water Depth

Rig Count Summary – available in both Excel and PDF formats. Includes a summary of the week's North America rig count compared to the prior week and prior year. Published each Friday at noon central U.S. time.
Rigs by State - an Excel file with current and historical rig counts by State dating back to 2000. Published each Friday at noon central U.S. time.
Rigs by State - a PDF file with current month rig counts by State. Published each Friday at noon central U.S. time.
North America Rotary Rig counts through 2012 – an Excel file updated at the end of each year.
U.S. Annual Average by State 1987 - 2012 – an Excel file updated at the end of each year.
U.S. Monthly Averages by State 1987- 2012 – an Excel file updated at the end of each year.
Historical Workover Rig Data - June 2007 back through 1999 – an Excel file. BHI no longer publishes this data.
North America Rotary Rig Counts 1968 – 1999 – individual PDF files by year. These are static files. No Excel versions are available.

International Rig Count Spreadsheet (monthly) - an Excel file with the following current and historical data by region and country. Published the 5th business day of each month.

  • Master Data Pivot (June 2012 Forward)
  • 1995 - present Oil & Gas Split by Month
  • 1982 - present Land and Offshore Split by Month
  • Master Data

Worldwide Rig Count - available in both Excel and PDF formats. Contains rig data from 1975 - present by month. Published the 5th business day of each month.

Over the years, the weekly U.S. rotary rig count has been extended to include additional information or subsets of the total count. These "splits" include the number of rigs drilling on land, in inland waters and offshore. In addition the weekly US count includes a split of rigs drilling for oil or natural gas and the number drilling directional and horizontal wells. Other geographic splits are available such as the North and South counts for Louisiana and the Railroad Commission Districts of Texas. The various rig count subsets may cover different time spans.

Since 1940 the highest weekly US rig count was 4,530 recorded on December 28, 1981. The lowest rig count of 488 was recorded on April 23, 1999. In Canada the highest weekly rig count of 718 was recorded on February 17,2006. The lowest weekly rotary rig count of 29 was recorded on April 24,1992.

The Baker Hughes International Rotary Rig Count is a monthly census of active drilling rigs exploring for or developing oil or natural gas outside North America (U.S. and Canada). The Baker Hughes International Rotary Rig Count does not include rigs drilling in Russia, the Caspian region, Iran, Sudan, Cuba, North Korea or onshore China. Iraq was excluded from the International Rotary Rig Count for the period September 1990 to May 2012. Syria is currently excluded from the International Rotary Rig Count as of February 2012 due to difficulty obtaining data as a result of continued civil unrest.

Baker Hughes field representatives maintain frequent contact with all operating rigs in their district, whether or not they are using Baker Hughes drill bits. This close contact with the customer enables the company to track the number of active rigs in each area. Regional offices throughout the world gather rig activity information and report by the end of the month for publication on the 5th working day of the following month.

The monthly Baker Hughes International Rotary Rig Count presents the number of rigs working in each country, drilling on land or offshore, and drilling for oil, natural gas or for other purposes.

Since 1975 the highest international rig count was 1,497, recorded in May 1982. The lowest international rig count of 556 was recorded in August 1999.

Other companies define activity differently than Baker Hughes, and their counts may include rigs that are available or contracted but not actively drilling. These counts provide a census of rigs available for work rather than those actually working.

Rig count trends are governed by oil company exploration and development spending, which in turn is influenced by the current and expected price of oil and natural gas. Rig counts therefore reflect the strength and stability of energy prices. However, there are many other factors at work, including:

Technology:

  • Minimizes the number of wells required to develop a reservoir
  • Maximizes production from new and existing fields
  • Increases the operational efficiency of the active drilling fleet
  • Opens new frontiers for exploration (such as deepwater areas)

Weather:

  • Interferes with the logistics of drilling schedules.
  • Seasonal weather patterns such as the Spring thaw in Canada can have a profound impact on activity, with soft, wet ground making it difficult to move rigs and set up new sites.
  • Severe weather such as hurricanes can impact the rig count by forcing the evacuation of personnel from offshore platforms and delaying rig moves to new locations.

Seasonal spending patterns:

  • Rig counts rise and fall with company budgeting and spending cycles
  • U.S. drilling activity often declines in the first quarter as prior year drilling programs expire. Activity then rises for the rest of the year, peaking in December to fulfill drilling commitments before budgets and leaseholds expire.

Other factors:

  • Local taxation policies
  • Government sanctions
  • Political unrest
  • Development of new infrastructure (such as roads and pipelines)
  • Availability of capital investment

Directional wells are typically drilled when the surface location of the well cannot be located directly above the reservoir. Offshore platforms or "pad sites" on land are the most common examples. In these cases, there are a multitude of wells that start at one location, but they all intersect the reservoir at a different spot. Directional wells can be drilled to:

  • Control vertical wells
  • Allow intersection by a relief well in the event of a blowout
  • Provide accessibility to an otherwise inaccessible location
  • Fulfill specific government regulations, such as in shoreline drilling
  • Avoid collision with other wells when multiple wells exist in one platform
  • Avoid or bypass an obstruction in the wellbore or formation
  • Hit a specific geologic target, such as below a salt dome

A horizontal well is a type of directional well, when the inclination exceeds 80 degrees from vertical, or when the lower part of the well bore parallels the pay zone. Horizontal wells are drilled to increase the length of the well that actually contacts the reservoir, in order to increase the productivity of the well.

The determination is made by the operating company when the rig permit is issued by the state's permitting authority. The operating company will drill appraisal well(s) to determine the hydrocarbon target. Based on the results, the operator makes a judgment call on how to classify the well. For example, if a well is producing – on a Btu basis – 50% gas; 20% NGLs and 30% oil, it could either be listed as a gas well (gas is the largest component), or an oil well (which is driving the economics). This judgment is solely up to the operator.

Subject to the Terms and Conditions of the website, Baker Hughes grants the public permission to use the information and any copyrighted expression on this Rig Count website, including downloads, provided that Baker Hughes and this website are cited as the source of the information.

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