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Record oil prices have boosted worldwide offshore rig demand to its highest level in years, yet the working rig counts in the US Gulf of Mexico and off Canada’s Atlantic provinces are on the decline.
In July 2005, before two devastating hurricanes struck the US Gulf coast, 120 mobile offshore rigs were working. One year later, only 109 mobile offshore rigs are working in the region, and while last year’s storms get some of the blame for the decline, they are not the sole reason for the falling US Gulf rig count. As can be seen in Fig. 1, a long-term decline in rig supply has been taking place, unrelated to hurricanes. The more-or-less steady decline in the US Gulf rig fleet size is indicative of market forces at work. For many years, the region was, and for the most part continues to be, a well-to-well market in terms of drilling contracts.
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