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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

AAPG Bulletin


Volume: 64 (1980)

Issue: 9. (September)

First Page: 1295

Last Page: 1330

Title: North American Drilling Activity in 1979

Author(s): Robert R. Johnston (2)


Total drilling activity in North America increased in 1979 compared with 1978. The 59,085 total wells drilled in the United States, Canada, and Mexico is an increase of 5.3% compared with 1978, and the 52,101 mi of footage drilled is a 7.9% increase over 1978.

Canada showed an increase of 4.4% in total wells drilled (7,489) and a 13.4% increase in the amount of footage drilled (25,687,844). The 277 new-field wildcat discoveries represented a success of 52.7%, an all-time high. Of these discoveries, 116 were in Alberta and 132 were in Saskatchewan. The new-field and new-pool wildcats accounted for 73.6% of the 1,831 exploratory discoveries. In Canada, 61.3% of the 2,986 exploratory wells drilled were successful.

Mexico drilled a total of 333 exploratory and development wells. This number represents a 21.9% decrease compared with 1978. Of this number, 83 were exploratory and 250 were development. New-field wildcat drilling accounted for 25 discoveries with a success of 50.0% (the success percentage does not include wells suspended owing to mechanical failures). Overall exploratory success was 36.1%, resulting in 30 discoveries, 10 of which were in the Northeast Zone, 0 in the North Zone, 5 in the combined Poza Rica District and Vera Cruz Embayment, and 15 in the South Zone.

In the United States total drilling activity increased 5.7% (51,263 wells) and footage drilled increased 5.3% (46,062 mi) compared with 1978. There were 1,162 new-field discoveries--an 18.2% increase over 1978. The ratio of dry holes to producers was 4.52:1, and the success was 18.1%, which is substantially higher than the normal 9 to 11% and exceeded last year's success rate by a full 3%.

Estimates of ultimate reserves discovered in 1979 in the United States showed a decrease in volume of gas and a decrease in volume of liquids over those discovered in 1978. The new fields in 1979 discovered an estimated 454.62 million bbl of oil and condensate and 4.1 Tcf of gas. However, 1979 production remains significantly greater than the amount found.

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