A great read, but does it compute?

  Dear HCN,

First off, I'd like to lavish HCN with praises for putting together such a jolly good read, for sure - then, secondly, for also being well-congealed with quotable info regarding the state of our Western environs ... perhaps. Explanation:

In his letter of Dec. 3, 2001, regarding Randy Udall's opinion, "We are the Oil Tribe" (HCN, 11/19/01: We are the Oil Tribe), Artie Rothman obliterates Randy's number of "250 rigs search(ing) for oil in America" with his own number - "1,278," which Artie extracts from what he says is an unimpeachable source: "the Baker Hughes monthly rig count (the industry's common standard)." Questions:

Why no editor's immediate follow-up/explanation? Which number, if either, is correct? Have you queried Randy about his source? Doesn't HCN require of its professional (and, for that matter, its nonprofessional) contributors accompanying documentation of such statistics?

Constructing an opinion is one thing, but doing it using unstable or questionable "facts" which, in fact, may actually be unfactual, will quickly reduce any sweet-reading periodical to a poor source of material to be used in serious discussions with one's ideological counterparts, let alone in jousts with one's ideological opponents.

Got any answers?

David Brich
Hotchkiss, Colorado

Randy Udall replies:

Dear HCN,

Last year there were about 1,200 drilling rigs actively searching for oil and natural gas in the U.S. and Canada. But the vast majority are searching for natural gas, not oil.

In the most recent issue of Oil and Gas Journal, the numbers are:
  • 907 drilling rigs in the U.S., plus 289 in Canada;

    Of that total of 1,196:

  • 150 are oil rigs;

  • 757 are gas rigs;

  • 119 are drilling offshore (of these, probably 75 are looking for oil, 50 for gas).
So, if this is the letter writer's question, there are fewer than 250 oil rigs (as stated in the article) looking for oil in the U.S.

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