This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

July 15, 2009

Economic Downturn Cuts U.S. Oil and Natural Gas Drilling by Half

Drilling for oil and natural gas wells in the United States was down by nearly half in the second quarter of 2009, relative to the same quarter in 2008, according to the American Petroleum Institute (API). The API's second-quarter drilling report estimated that only 8,038 oil wells, natural gas wells, and dry holes were completed in the second quarter, down 46% from the second quarter of 2008. That's the lowest level of drilling seen in the United States since 2004. Most of the current drilling is targeting natural gas, with an estimated 4,225 natural gas wells completed during the quarter. Hardest hit were exploratory wells, with only 336 drilled during the quarter, a 63% decrease from 2008. Such boom-and-bust cycles are common in the drilling industry, but as the economy recovers and demand increases, drillers may find it difficult to secure new drilling rigs and to ramp up production. See the API press release.