Rising rig count could point to another banner year for America’s oil and gas industry


Hydraulic jet pumps can help operators quickly complete well testing and initiate production at new sites.

The U.S. energy industry made significant strides during 2012, tapping into new reserves and increasing oil and gas output at such a rapid pace that fuel imports dropped considerably and a number of optimistic reports broached the possibility of American production overtaking that of Saudi Arabia – long the world's top oil producer.

The extensive drilling efforts put forward by U.S. companies last year facilitated ongoing growth in production during the first quarter of 2013, a trend that seems to be continuing in Q2. In fact, earlier this month, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that the nation's oil production has reached a 20-year high of more than 7 million barrels per day.

Now, it seems as though the industry is set to continue pushing forward with new exploration. Baker Hughes Inc. reported that the U.S. drilling rig count rose by 33 to reach 1,771 during the week that ended on April 12. Although the number of rotary rigs currently drilling in the United States is still well below the 1,950 seen in the same week last year, the recent increase in activity should bolster the confidence of key stakeholders and market observers.

As production has expanded, so have employment opportunities

The Texas Independent Producers and Royalty Owners Association (TIPRO) recently released its first "State of Energy Report," which looks at emerging trends in oil and gas employment at both the national and state levels.

According to TIPRO, Texas continues to occupy a leading position in the sector, with nearly 380,000 Texans employed in the oil and gas industry. That's almost 40 percent of the roughly 971,000 jobs that exist in the sector nationwide.

The state seems to be on track to solidify this strong position with new growth. Of the 33 drilling rigs put into service in the United States last week, all but 10 of the units were added in Texas, which is now the home of close to half – 848 out of 1,771 – of the nation's active drilling rigs.

"Texas continues to lead the country in oil and gas production, innovation and employment, due in part to our favorable business and regulatory climate," Ed Longanecker, president of TIPRO, said in a press release introducing the organization's inaugural State of Energy Report. "This year alone, our industry will invest literally tens of billions of dollars in oil and gas exploration and production in Texas."

Ongoing technological development will support continuing growth

The recent increases in drilling activity and output provide a compelling reason to be optimistic about America's energy outlook. However, in order to maintain its current momentum, the industry will need to continue pushing forward with the development and implementation of new tools that boost production and oilfield efficiency.

Among the artificial lift solutions that are available today, few can match the power and versatility of the hydraulic jet pump. This equipment can be used to quickly complete drill stem testing and initiate production at new sites, or improve recovery rates at established oil and gas wells.