Total drilling activity in North America decreased in 1973 compared with 1972. The year is highlighted by the fact that the percent success of new-field wildcats is nearly at a record high and the ratio of dry holes to producers is the lowest in history.

During 1973 the oil industry drilled more than 30,142 mi of hole in wells. Compared with 1972 this is an increase of 1.9% in footage and a decrease of 1.1% in number of wells.

Canada showed a gain in both exploratory and development drilling. The 22.4% new-field wildcat success accounted for 164 new discoveries primarily in Alberta and Saskatchewan. New-pool wildcats and deeper pool tests accounted for most of the 766 exploratory completions. Total exploratory percent success was 25.6.

Mexico reports a decrease in drilling this year. However, 12 new fields were discovered with the drilling of 66 new-field wildcats for a percent success of 21.1. Twelve fields also were discovered by other exploratory drilling for a 34.3% success. Overall exploratory success was 25.3%.

The United States reported a substantial increase in new-field discoveries—701, compared with 566; unfortunately, a concurrent decrease in volume of reserves occurred. Reserve estimates show a decrease of 37.7% in liquids and 18.9% in gas over those reported in the previous year. The new fields in 1973 discovered an estimated 365 million bbl of oil and condensate and 4.1 Tcf gas.

Success in new-field wildcat drilling measured 14.1%, which is a higher figure than usual. This success consistently has measured 9–11%. These figures continue to emphasize the fact that the number of new-field wildcat discoveries is almost directly proportional to the number of new-field wildcats drilled.

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