A total of 5,237 wells was drilled in eastern New Mexico and west Texas during 1979–14.5% more than in 1978. The success rate for all wells was 78.4%, down 0.4% from 1978. The number of exploratory wells drilled was 19.2% higher than in 1978, and total exploratory footage drilled was up 2.9%. The exploratory success rate decreased from 36.4 to 27%. Seismic-crew activity increased 1.6% from 1978, continuing an upward trend. Because seismic activity is usually a reliable indicator of trends in exploratory drilling, an increase in wildcat drilling is predicted for 1980 and 1981.
During 1979, 13.6% more development wells were drilled and development footage reached a record mark of 24,114,707, an increase of 3.9%. Development success rate increased 1.7 to 89%. Oil production for 1979 was 644,005,756 bbl down 3.8% from 1978 and down 13.8% from the all-time high of 747,467,187 bbl in 1973. Oil production from west Texas and eastern New Mexico still represents approximately one-fifth of total United States production.