Drilling developments ///

The market for jackup rigs in the Gulf of Mexico continued its free fall in early October as utilization hit 56.7%, down 3.3% from the previous week, according to the Gulf of Mexico Newsletter. Presumably, this drilling slump is related to the drop in natural gas prices, as the shallow Gulf is gas prone, and an infrastructure exists to put new gas wells on quickly, once drilled and tested. In other words, smaller operators can pick and choose their times to invest in sales, farmouts, etc., to jump into, or out of, the market. A friend once told me that the standard reply from his management to U.S. Gulf gas drilling proposals was, "Do you have a contract?" Several contractors have begun to ready-stack jackups, besides those that have moved out of the GOM to "greener pastures."

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