Drilling advances ///

Outlook for 2009 It’s the beginning of a new year, a time usually reserved for fresh-faced optimism in the drilling industry as new budgets come into place and schedules are being revised to reflect lofty plans. This year, however, there seems to be a sense of impending doom as drillers tremble in abject fear of oil prices remaining at artificially low levels brought on by sagging economies worldwide. The question is: Are such fears justified? A couple of years ago I used the “B” word (boom) in this column to the consternation of many. Now, those same pundits are saying that the “R” word (recession) is more appropriate - to which I say “hogwash.” It’s true that rig activity levels were down in December, 12% from the September peak (and 2% from the same time last year - gasp!), according to the Baker Hughes survey at the time of this writing. I suspect that will remain about the level of activity in the coming year compared to peak levels in 2008. Others, however, predict that over 1,000 rigs

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