North American drilling: Growing, but at a slowing rate ///

A couple of years ago, we thought that the price-led expansion would be constrained, either by lack of personnel, lack of rigs or rig components, lack of prospects, or lack of some critical well construction element, such as pipe. We were wrong. The resolve to find ways around these obstacles prevailed. But, there are clear signs that the rate of well drilling is slowing. There is talk of stacked rigs-normally a sure sign of trouble. But the Baker Hughes rig count keeps climbing. The explanation for these two seemingly incongruous facts is that newbuilds have been added at a faster rate than the rise in the rig count. This increase has been a modest 5.6% the first seven months of the year, which is about a third of the rig count increase in 2006. Since this is a mid-course correction of our February forecast...

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