Tracking Oil And Gas Rigs In The U.S. (Yes, There's An App)

April 1, 2011

Bill Chappell

Karen Bleier
An oil drilling rig is seen near Ray, N.D., last September. The well is being drilled into the Bakken Formation, one of the largest contiguous deposits of oil and natural gas in the United States.

Can you guess the number of rigs that are now actively looking for oil and natural gas in the United States? It now stands at 1,776 — one of America's favorite numbers. The figure reflects a rise of 38 rigs in the past week, and a gain of 311 over the same week one year ago.

The AP reports:

Houston-based Baker Hughes Inc. reported Friday that 891 rigs were exploring for gas and 877 for oil. Eight were listed as miscellaneous. A year ago, the count was 1,465.

Of the major oil- and gas-producing states, Oklahoma gained 19 rigs, North Dakota and Texas each gained four, while Arkansas and Wyoming gained two. Colorado and New Mexico each gained one.

California and Louisiana each lost one rig. Alaska, Pennsylvania and West Virginia were unchanged. The rig count peaked at 4,530 in 1981, the height of the oil boom. The record low of 488 was in 1999.

The Obama administration said this week that oil companies are not doing everything they can to drill for fossil fuels in the United States. That was the gist of a report from the Department of Interior on fuel exploration.

Forbes blogger Kenneth Rapoza gave us this breakdown:

In the Gulf of Mexico, 34 million acres with an estimated 11.6 billion barrels of oil have been leased. That means companies can indeed drill in those areas. Only 6.3 million acres are currently being drilled.

On land, 54 percent of onshore acres under lease, and approved in the last two years, are not undergoing any exploration or development at this time.

If you want to keep an eye on how the drilling's going — whether you're for it or against it — there's an app for that. The Baker Hughes Rig Count app lets you track the location and number of rigs on your iPhone or iPad.

And as anyone who's seen the documentary Gasland can attest, it's not a bad idea to know where the nearest natural gas and oil rigs are. That film's director was on NPR last year. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.