Companies in this industry specialize in drilling oil and gas wells for others on a contract or fee basis. Major companies include Atwood Oceanics, Helmerich & Payne, Nabors Industries, Patterson-UTI Drilling, and Transocean (all based in the US), as well as Ensco plc (UK) and Ensign Energy Services (Canada).
Demand is driven by oil and gas prices. The profitability of individual companies depends on technical expertise and efficiency of operations. Large companies can offer a broader range of services in addition to drilling, and they can contract to serve major clients in multiple locations. Small firms can compete effectively by specializing in a particular type of drilling or geographic area.
Products, Operations & Technology
Drilling a well with a drilling rig involves creating a hole using a drill bit attached to a rotating drill "string" made up of 30-foot sections of pipe. Heavy fluids ("drilling mud") are pumped down the hole during drilling to carry cuttings to the surface. Periodically, the drill pipe is pulled out and a larger diameter pipe, known as "casing," is cemented in place to protect the hole against collapse.