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The year 2001 closes with much uncertainty for the contract drilling industry. An economic hard landing, exacerbated by the events of September 11, caused natural gas demand to slide in the second half of the year, and gas in storage climbed unexpectedly.
The resulting weaker gas prices were the principal driving force that caused a slowdown in drilling, both onshore and offshore. Jackup rig utilization dropped to 65% in October from over 90% early in the year. As we look ahead to next year, conflicting forces are evident. For example, while the U.S. manufacturing sector is experiencing its worst recession in decades, electricity consumption across the nation set record highs in first-half 2001.
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