Kemp: Global Oil And Gas Drilling Hits 30-Year High

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Drilling for oil and gas deposits outside North America has hit the highest level in three decades, led by big exploration and production programmes in the Middle East and Africa.

More than 1,300 drilling rigs have been operating on average over the last six months, the greatest number since 1983, according to oilfield services company Baker Hughes.

The number of rigs is up 20 percent compared with 2008 and has more than doubled since hitting a nadir in 1999.

The boom is being led by the Middle East, where the number of rigs operating has tripled since 1999, and Africa, where the rig count is up almost four times.

Rig counts reported by Baker Hughes do not include onshore China, Russia, the Caspian and certain other countries.

According to the company, more than 400 onshore and offshore rigs were drilling in the Middle East in December and January, the greatest number since the 1970s.

Over the last six months, Iraq averaged more than 90, up from zero in 1999, when the country was still under U.N. sanctions.

Saudi Arabia also has more than 90, up from fewer than 20 in 1999.

Kuwait, too, is witnessing a drilling revolution, with more than 30 rigs, three times as many as at the turn of the century.

In Africa, the boom is led by Algeria (almost 50) and Angola (13 offshore). In both cases drilling has tripled over the last 15 years.

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