Editor Greg Ettling shares the results of a recentNational Drillersurvey that asked some basic questions about the rigs you've owned over the years.

Back in March, your copy ofNational Drillerincluded a survey form that asked some basic questions about the rigs you've owned over the years. After an encouraging start, the number of returns was reduced to a trickle after about 10 days. We attended several industry events shortly thereafter and had the survey on hand; many drillers we visited with were kind enough to complete the survey in person. Then we put the survey on our Web site (www.drilleronline.com) and things just took off. Cyber responses more than doubled the number of returns we had until then; in the end, 57 percent of the completed surveys came over the Internet. Thanks again to all who participated.

For a little background information, the average number of years respondents had been in business is 28.46 (assuming they haven't closed shop in the last few months, that number now is 28.88). The average number of employees at respondents' firms is just below 14.

The Rig Numbers

Our survey asked, "How many rigs do you currently own?" The average response was four, with a low of one and a high of 20. By far, the most frequent response (more than 40% of the respondents) was two.

On average, the number of newly purchased rigs respondents are running is 1.7. The highest number reported was nine. Not surprisingly, the lowest number was zero; a good many drilling contractors buy only used rigs. On the other hand, the average number of used rigs respondents are running is 2.3, with a high of 11 and a low of zero. The zeroes come courtesy of the 23 percent of respondents who say their firms purchase only new rigs. By contrast, nearly 54 percent of respondents say they're running only used rigs. The remaining 23 percent run a combination of used and newly purchased drilling rigs.

We also inquired about all the rigs drillers have owned over their entire careers. We're pretty sure there was no small amount of guesswork behind some of the responses in this category, but that's OK -- it's still neat to look at and it was apparent that folks had some fun reminiscing about that. The average number of rigs respondents have ever owned is 7.38. The high was 20 and the low was one. Note: the people who answered "one" all have been in business no more than six years. And again, the most common answer to this question was "two." Breaking down that 7.38 number into new vs. used shows that respondents have owned, on average, 2.92 new rigs and 4.46 used rigs over their careers. Based on the aforementioned 28.88-year career average, that's a rig purchase -- new or used -- every 3.9 years.

Those new rigs sure don't come cheap; the average purchase price for a new rig came out to $285,000. When we asked respondents how much they paid for their most expensive new rig purchase, answers ranged from $190,000 to $475,000; the average was $340,000. The survey also asked drilling contractors about their best bargains on new rigs. The average purchase price of their least expensive new rig purchase was $231,000.

When it came to the purchase prices of used rigs, the numbers were all over the board -- quite understandably so. When asked the price of their most expensive used rig purchase, respondents gave answers ranging from $1,000 (in the 1950s) to $275,000; the average was $104,000. On the low end, the participating drillers reported that the least expensive used rig they ever bought cost an average of $38,960.

In a separate, but related, survey on our Web site in June, we asked visitors how many rigs (new, used or otherwise) they've bought in the past five years. The results of that survey:

Zero rigs-- 24 percent
One rig -- 20 percent
Two rigs -- 22 percent
Three rigs -- 10 percent
Four or more rigs -- 24 percent