Gulf of Mexico rig count hits 4-year high

07 03, 2013 by Upstream Online

The number of rigs drilling in the US Gulf of Mexico hit a four-year high this week, according to data from Houston-based oilfield services giant Baker Hughes.

There were 57 rigs working in the Gulf at the end of a week cut short by the Independence Day holiday, up three from last week and up 10 from a year ago. That was the highest level since February 2009, when there were also 57 rigs drilling in the Gulf.

The rising rig count reflects a recovering drilling environment following the Macondo well blowout and resulting oil spill in April 2010. US regulators imposed a deep-water drilling moratorium following the disaster, and the rig count plummeted.

As the rig count has gradually risen, the objective has flipped, as the US shale boom has made its mark. In 2009, 54 of the 57 rigs were targeting natural gas. As of this week, just 14 were after gas.

At 43 rigs, the oil-directed count is at its highest level since March 2001, according to Baker Hughes.