For the second quarter in a row, drilling activity in the U.S. energy exploration and production industry fell to levels not seen since 2003-2004, according to API’s second-quarter 2009 drilling estimates. According to API’s2009 Quarterly Well Completion Report: Second Quarter, an estimated 8,038 oil wells, natural gas wells and dry holes were completed in the second quarter of 2009, down 46% from 2008’s second quarter. 

The estimated number of second-quarter exploratory oil and gas wells drilled plunged 63% from 2008 to 336 wells, while the number of second-quarter development oil and gas wells slipped 46% to 6,761 wells in 2009, the report found.   

While natural gas continues to be the primary target for domestic drilling, with an estimated 4,225 natural gas wells completed in the second quarter of 2009, activity was down 43% from 2008’s second quarter, the most severe quarterly decline this decade.

Oil well completion activity, meanwhile, continued to subside, with total estimated oil well completions in second-quarter 2009 falling 53% below year-ago levels.

API also reported total estimated footage of 48.1 million feet drilled in the second quarter of 2009, a 53% decline from second-quarter 2008.