Saudi Arabia Has About 98 Onshore Drilling Rigs, Shoaibi Says

Saudi Arabia has about 98 onshore rigs currently drilling for oil and natural gas, according to Shoaibi Group, a service company used by the kingdom’s state-run producer.

Shoaibi, based in Khobar in Saudi Arabia, published the figure today in an e-mailed statement while announcing a joint venture with U.K. rig engineering company Lamprell Plc. (LAM) Shoaibi didn’t provide comparison figures for earlier dates and state- run Saudi Arabian Oil Co. doesn’t publish information on how many rigs it has in operation.

“Saudi Arabia has an estimated 98 onshore drilling rigs in place and there is a rising demand for advanced drilling equipment and oilfield services in the upstream market, which justifies Lamprell’s expansion into the market at this time,” Shoaibi Group Director Khalid al-Shoaibi said in the statement.

The service company’s estimate compares with a figure of 121 rigs that Saudi Arabia used for both onshore and offshore work in 2011, and 98 in 2010, according to OPEC’s annual statistical bulletin from July. The country boosted production this year and pumped an average 9.8 million barrels of crude a day during the first eight months of 2012, compared with an average 9.2 million a day during all of last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

While most Saudi Arabian rigs operate on land, it also has some off its coast in the Persian Gulf and in an offshore partitioned zone where it shares oil and gas output with Kuwait.

Saudi Aramco, as the state oil company is known, plans to increase its oil and gas drilling-rig count by 12 percent this year to 145 to boost natural-gas production from new fields and oil output from its Manifa field, Sadad al-Husseini, a former executive of the state-run company and an independent energy consultant, said in December.

To contact the reporter on this story: Wael Mahdi in Manama at wmahdi@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Voss at sev@bloomberg.net

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