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The number of oil rigs in the USA

When in comes to counting oil rigs, the figures differ dramatically, although there are not so many oil rigs in the world, including mobile rigs, mounted on contemporary drillships.

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The number of oil rigs, operating on offshore and land based oil fields, can without doubt be regarded as an unbiased and therefore the most important indicator of the steadiness and the stability of oil and gas prices, availability of oil rig jobs, and overall soundness of oil and gas production industry in a whole. The historical maximum of the number of oil rigs in the USA was recorded in 1981, when the rig count rose to 4530 oil drilling facilities. The sharpest ever reduction of the count of active oil rigs in the USA down to 488 was recorded back in 1948.

According to the current reports, the number of oil rigs in the USA during this week reduced by 9 more oil drilling facilities and thus fell down to only 480 oil rigs. This is a record low level and an irrefutable sign of the continuing economic problems that keep hitting oil & gas industry, reducing further both the number of oil rig jobs and prospects of employment, especially for new offshore job seekers without previous experience of working on platforms. The salaries on the rig floor, earned by all sorts of Roughnecks, Roustabouts, mechanics and technicians aboard offshore oil rigs experienced the reduction too.

Currently the number of the rigs, performing drilling for oil, stands at 386, while 94 rigs drill for natural gas reserves, according to the information, provided by Houston based oilfield servicing company Baker Hughes Inc. 11 March. There were 1,125 active oil and gas rigs a year ago. At the peak of the recent oil production boom their number in the USA increased to the historically record number of 1,931 in the last September. But since then there prevailed a steady tendency towards reduction of their number, following the collapse of price for oil down to $ 30 per barrel from $ 100 only 2 years ago.

Among the main oil & gas producing states it's Texas that leads the top list. In Texas the number of oil rigs reduced by 12, by 3 in Oklahoma, by 2 in the New Mexico, while North Dakota and Ohio lost each 1 oil rig. No reduction of oil rigs was reported by Alaska, Arkansas, West Virginia, Colorado, and Wyoming. At the same time in Louisiana and Pennsylvania the number of oil rigs increased by 3 in each of the said states, while in the states of Kansas, Uta, and California got one more oil rig each in addition to their previously existing number

11 March 2016.

Global Offshore Rig Count

According to a known UK based consultancy Faststream Recruitment, whose business is recruiting employees and workers for marine and offshore industries, in 2011 the number of offshore oil rigs across the world totalled 540. It is not clear, what criteria the Faststream used, counting the rigs, but according to the Statistics Portal, the global count for offshore oil rigs in 2011 produced the figure of only 413. It's possibble that the Statistics Portal didn't take into account inactive platforms, either conserved or in the process of decommissioning. Since the Faststream is a recruitment agency, it's understandable why it would count them as well. From the perspective of offshore oil rig job provider, for example, decommissionned offshore rigs, constitute a valid source of employment for thousands of workers, being hired to fill the decommissionning job opennings and dismantle the unfunctional platforms.

But even if Faststream's daring predictions, saying that the count of the offshore oil rigs across the world would spike almost by 100 from the 2010 level failed, the new offshore discoveries of the untapped reserves of oil and gas continue, generating more jobs for individuals seeking employment and unreal salaries on offshore oil rigs. The fatal accidents like 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon blowout that involved 11 death counts don't scare off the seekers of romanticism and big bucks, due to tough guys for their performing the hard duties of Roustabouts and Roughnecks in challenging environment in the high seas.

Most of the oil reserve discoveries these years happen in the deepwater part of the Gulf of Mexico, though other parts of the world contribute significantly too. Dynamics of the deepwater discoveries of the new oil reserves by year currently looks like following: 224 discoveries in 2010, 216 in 2011, 217 in 2012, 179 in 2013, 139 in 2014, and 71 drilled well in 2015. According to the Faststream, each new rig will generate 184 jobs on average that is necessary for keeping the oil drilling installation functioning.

Roustabouts and Roughnecks

Beginning 2007 and ending 2012, the salaries, paid to roustabouts - the least skilled workers, doing job of manual laborers on offshore platforms and drillships, never stopped showing steady growth. In as little as 5 years the median salary for this category of offshore workers nearly doubled, and the wages reached $18-$20 an hour, while the salaries of laborers on the next promotion level, Roughnecks (Driller Helpers) grew even more impressively until they ultimately reached $27-$28 wage per hour of the hard semi skilled labor. Though big, that was by no means an easy money. As offshore oil rig never stops, operating continuously, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with no breaks between the shifts for workers to substitute each other, since pause in oil production is technologically possible only if company can afford to incur the huge expences, associated with the hault of installation's operation. The bigger part of offshore personnel, not just roustabouts and Roughnecks, work on rotational schedule, 14 days in a row alternating with 14 days reliefe leave on mainland. It's difficult to believe, but yet in 2012 offshore rigs suffered from the shortage on engineers, IT specialists, and even supervisory staff, because the rotational work with the working day lasting 12 hours, if not longer because frequent overtime hours, is not for everyone. From the other hand the IT specialists and engineers enjoyed a choice: the landbased engineering and IT companies with normal 8 hour working schedule suggested salaries for their employees with college and university degrees in key positions that could well compete with salaries on offshore rigs. Such situation couldn't fail to cause a spike in the size of offshore salaries for engineering positions, receiving remuneration, exceeding wages of Roughnecks and Roustabouts outstandingly.

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