Drilling demand exceeds rig supply across Oklahoma

Wednesday, November 10th 2004, 5:30 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Increased petroleum prices have spurred so much oil drilling that the industry lacks equipment to get the job done.

The result has been delays of as much as six months before drilling can begin on some sites, particularly for some of the state's smaller oil and gas operators.

Oklahoma City-based Cleary Petroleum Corp. has five wells ready to be drilled, but no rigs are available.

``It's a timing issue for getting things done,'' President Doug Cleary said. ``Obviously, time is money. If we can't get wells drilled in a timely manner, it ends up hurting the bottom line for us.

``Right now, we're going into the winter months, which is the strongest period for commodity prices. If we can't drill a well we had planned for the fourth quarter of 2004 until the second quarter of 2005, we've missed out on some of the opportunity there.''

For Cleary Petroleum and many of the state's smaller oil and gas companies, operators must find investors for each well before drilling can begin.

The larger industry players often lease rigs for extended periods of time, using them to drill several wells in a row.

Drilling has surged over the past three years largely because commodity prices have jumped to record levels.