The contract drilliing industry, on dry land and offshore, is by far, the most capital-intensive of the industries which comprise the upstream petroleum service sector. A drilling rig, once assembled, has a usable life of 10 to 20 years and has little value in any use other than that of petroleum exploration and development. The typical land rig employs an average of 18 individuals and an offshore unit will provide year-round employment for 60–100 personnel. These numbers do not account for the multitude of operator and service company positions which are linked to each working rig.

In 1783 there were an average of 1,700 fewer rigs (land and offshore) were active in the U.S. compared to the peak drilling year of 1981. This decrease in activity represents at least 34,000 workers who were forced to look for other employment. Taking into account "ripple effects") a more realistic estimate of displaced workers might be on the order of 70)000. At an average of $10 million per rig in plant and equipment) the slump accounted for $17 billion in idle capital; easily $3.7 million per day in unsatisfied depreciation charges.

Average rotary rig activity for 1983 represented 36 percent of the level reported for 1981 yet the A.P.I's tabulation of exploratory wells drilled in 1983 was 92% of the 1981 number and the similar statistic for development wells was virtually 99%. Over the same period) crude prices dropped some 18% in nominal terms – a 20% reduction in real value.

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