County Level Drilling Activity, 2001-2011

This report focuses on county-level details of drilling rig activity for the period 2001 to 2011 in the six Rocky Mountain oil and gas states of Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming.

National drilling rig counts are an important measure of trends in domestic fossil fuel energy development activity. Because a majority of oil and gas industry jobs are associated with the drilling phase, drilling activity (as measured by rig counts) serves as a good proxy for employment trends.

State-level information can obscure the intensity of oil and gas development activities in specific locations. For that reason, this report focuses on county-level details of drilling rig activity for the period 2001 to 2011 in the six Rocky Mountain oil and gas states of Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. The unit of measure is rig weeks — the presence of one drilling rig for at least one week in the county.

This analysis and accompanying web-based interactive illustrate the amount of drilling activity at the county level both by year and the extent of changes from year to year: “Oil and Gas Drilling: Rig Weeks Activity 2001–2011”.

We also analyze three important dynamics in the boom-bust cycle that energy-focusing counties experience; identifying the 10 busiest counties, the 10 counties with the fastest buildups (booms), and the 10 counties with the steepest declines (busts). These county-level trends provide an opportunity to compare trends and the relative impacts of different boom-bust cycles in different geological areas.