Small E&P firms to determine direction of US land market in 2007 ///

Is it the pause that refreshes, or a signal of a maturing land market? With the first half of the year behind the industry, the US land market is still a puzzle when discussion turns to how drilling activity will play out in 2007. Depending on which rig count one follows, activity is either slightly up (Baker Hughes, by 4.6%) or has decreased by as much as 100 rigs at various times since October 2006. Operators are on record for single digit percentage increases in 2007 capital expenditures for the onshore market, according to various industry spending surveys. The question is whether increased field costs account for the increased Capex, while drilling levels stay similar to 2006. The land market has certainly witnessed its share of extenuating circumstances. Persistent late winter weather in the first half of 2007 yielded to a very wet second quarter, particularly in south-central US drilling markets, hobbling rig moves and slowing drilling programs well into summer.

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