Onshore / Land Drilling Rig

Drilling Rigs are one of the most important oilfield equipment and are used in a number of stages throughout oil & gas fields lifecycle. Land drilling rigs could be of different sizes, power and application










Category Description Image

Category Description

Drilling Rigs are one of the most important pieces of oilfield equipment and are used during a number of stages throughout the life cycle of oil and gas fields. Land drilling rigs can be of different sizes, power capabilities and used in different applications. 

Each rig type serves a different purpose and is best suited to a particular drilling environment. Key differentiation factors in drilling rigs are: 

  • Lifting capacity
  • Horsepower
  • Number of mud pumps and their power and ability to circulate drilling fluid
  • Size 
  • While mobile rigs have limited use, light conventional rigs are the most widely used. However, with shale drilling, multilateral, directional wells, HP/HT and sour wells, the use of hi-tech and high horsepower rigs has been gaining momentum and the demand for these heavy rigs have been increasing. In addition, ambient temperatures (e.g. deserts) can place more pressure on land drilling rig efficiency.  


Below is a summary of how land rigs are used throughout the life cycle of oil and gas fields

  • During the exploration stage. Rigs are used to drill exploration wells and wildcat wells in locations with the potential for hydrocarbon-bearing geological structures, after being identified from analysing the results from various geological studies and the seismic survey. Most of the time, vertical wells are drilled to ensure safety and well stability and to acquire quality and sufficient subsurface data/knowledge.
  • During the appraisal stage. Rigs are used to drill several wells to understand flow rates, the reservoir dynamics and the size and limits of the reservoir in order to confirm the assumption that hydrocarbons can be economically produced.
  • During the development stage. Rigs are used to drill wells (at a much higher level of activity) to the depth of a productive zone of the reservoir. Wells in this point could be vertical, horizontal or deviated, and could be drilled on a grid or on a pad.
  • During the production stage. Rigs are used to drill more wells, also known as infield drilling or repair/work over existing wells. Depending on the complexity, a smaller work-over rig may be used for a work-over programme and well repair or production enhancements or for other well treatments.  


There is a fundamental shift in the types of onshore drilling rigs being used today and more advanced and powerful rigs are replacing the old fleet. More challenges are now put onto the rigs, such as drilling multiple wells from a single location, in order to avoid rig moves.  Higher drilling speed and longer laterals drilled are also the norms when wells are drilled from a single location. Standard rigs are usually not equipped to provide the capabilities to meet these challenges as they were designed to drill-move-drill one well at a time. Hence, the industry is experiencing a significant and fundamental change in the land rig fleet.

Generally, the cost of rig services is less than 10% of the overall well cost. However, the performance of the drill rigs is vital to the drilling of a successful well.  

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Supply & Demand Dynamics


Demand for Land / Onshore Drilling Rigs is directly influenced by the demand growth for fossil fuels and global onshore exploration and production activities. Well intervention and work-over activities have less impact on the demand for drilling rigs, due to other well intervention methods and technologies available. However, more wells do not necessarily mean more rigs. Newer rigs are more efficient and with pad drilling, fewer rigs are required to deliver the same or higher number of wells.

Oil price volatility hugely affects the demand for onshore drilling rigs, as fewer wells are drilled during the industry downturn. Historically, apart from Russia and the CIS, North America has held the largest share of demand, followed by the Middle East and Latin America. In the Middle East, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are the biggest areas for land rigs. The onshore rig segment in the Middle East has exhibited one of the highest growth rates in the world over the last 20 years.  

The demand patterns between the regions globally are slightly different, whereby most of the growth in North America is for hi-spec rigs (1,500/2,000 / 3,000 hp) used in horizontal drilling. Historically the Middle East and Russia have used lower specs rigs, with more demand for 2,000 hp rigs (and above) starting to build up from 2014 onwards. 



Outside of Russia and the CIS, North America has been historically the largest market for land / onshore rigs of any type, followed by the Middle East. Regionally, around 75 % of the units are drilling rigs, with the rest being work-over units. The rig fleet in the GCC region has been growing significantly over the last several years, reaching close to 370, with major purchases in UAE, KSA, and Oman.

Latest global active land rig count (Source: Baker Hughes, various estimates for Russia and CIS)



Onshore rigs have different power supply mechanisms, i.e. SCR or AC. SCR is old technology, whereas AC-powered (with variable speed) rigs allows adjusting the load and torque as required. This not only provides drilling efficiency and control but consumes less fuel and reduces wear and tear. The majority of new onshore rigs globally are equipped with the AC power system. However, in the Middle East, the majority of onshore rigs are equipped with the SCR system. In the USA, around 70% of the land rigs are AC powered. It is expected that AC powered and rigs will dominate the increase in rig supply capacity around the world.

The Middle East market for onshore drilling rigs consists of national/domestic rig contractors, as well as international players, with the domestic companies prevailing and controlling more than 70% of the rig fleet (including work-over rigs). Below is an approximate distribution of rig contractors and owners in the GCC region.  Around 40% of the rig count in the region is high spec 2,000hp to 3,000hp rigs, with circa 25% of the units being 1,500hp to 2,000hp rigs and c. 15%  1,000hp to 1,500hp rigs. 

This information is as of Q4 2020 and based on various companies reports and presentations and our estimates. Counts of MB Petroleum, IDC and NDSC may require further verification on a number of rigs.



When it comes to the US market of land / onshore active drilling rigs, as of Q1 2021, the average market share and rig count by contractor/operator is as below. It is evident that there are 5 major players who dominate the US land rig business and control nearly 70% of the market. 


This information is as of Q1 2021 and based on companies reports/presentations. The exact number of rigs and percentage will vary depending on the actual rig count of the week and when companies publish their reports. Only active drilling rigs are included in the estimation. 

External ScanningImage

External Scanning

The land / onshore drilling rig market is highly competitive, follows a cyclical pattern and highly sensitive to the oil price. Although high capacity utilization may suggest that suppliers are more powerful, NOCs successful attempts to develop local segments for land drilling services moved away from this market power towards the buyers. 

New entrants Medium
  • Medium CAPEX required
  • Many Players
  • Battle for market share
  • Strong demand
Supplier power is low
  • Many providers
  • Some Product differentiation
  • Domestic Service providers
Competitive Rivalry
  • A competitive environment
  • Battle for market share
  • Some products differentiation
  • Government support of local providers
Buyer Power is High
  • Many providers
  • Spend is high
  • Switching costs are small
  • Does not exist


Cost & Price Analysis Image

Cost & Price Analysis

Price Analysis 

Operating rates for land rigs have always been driven by supply and demand and been highly sensitive to the oil price and rig utilization. Land / onshore drilling rig operating rates vary between $5k/day to $50k/day, largely depending on the region and rig type. The North American market is the most important indicator of onshore drilling rig day rates.

Indicative day rates for land drilling rigs are as below  ( as of Q1 2021) 

North America onshore / land drilling rig day rates range 

  • >2,000hp - $22k-$26k per day
  • 1,500hp - $14k-$17k per day
  • 1,000hp - $8k-$13k per day
  • <1,000hp - < $10k per day

US High Spec Land Rigs Average Day Rates. Data is based on multiple companies reports, averaged and rounded up.



Other regions onshore / land drilling rig day rates including Middle East 

  • >2,000hp  - $35k-$50k per day 
  • 1,500hp - $25k-$35k per day
  • 1,000hp - $15k-$25k per day 
  • <1,000hp - < $10k-$15k per day 


While in Oman, most of the drilling rigs are lower / average spec to the nature of drilling, whereas the UAE and Kuwait generally command a higher day rate for powerful and robust drilling rigs, e.g. 3,000 hp, due to the drilling depth of wells, pressure and temperature. Deeper wells would also require more powerful rig equipment, such as top drive and mud pumps. Another notable feature of rigs in the GCC region is the ability to quick rig moves, as a result of short well drilling duration, in particular in Oman.


Cost Analysis 

The most notable cost that contributes to the price of the operating rate initial Purchase Cost / Price. The initial purchase cost of a land rig represents a large capital investment for any company. As a guide the following prices can be expected:

  • Rebuilt 1,500hp AC powered -$ 4-8MM 
  • Brand new 1,500hp and SCR powered around $ 10-13 MM
  • Brand new 2,000hp and SCR powered - around $12-16 MM
  • Brand new 3,000hp and AC powered  around $ 18-22 MM

Operating costs - Below are major cost elements to operate an onshore drilling rig. 

  • Interest charges ( financing). Depending on the funding of the Initial Purchase (i.e. Debt to equity split) and the interest rates available in the financial market, interest charges can represent a significant contribution to the day rate. 
  • Depreciation. The rig will be depreciated over a period of time, typically 15-30 years. The depreciation cost will contribute to the day rate.
  • Personnel and Equipment. Land rigs operate with as many as 50 crew. As such personnel represent a significant portion of the rig cost. Personnel costs are inclusive of the salaries as well as all other incidentals such as accommodation, mobilizations, and training etc.  Depending on the supply and demand characteristics in the market personnel and equipment rates can vary as crew and equipment are limited in availability.
  • Inspection and Maintenance. Land rigs require regular maintenance to sustain the operation of the various pieces of equipment on board. This may include specialist technical support as well as spare parts and consumables required. In addition, depending on the inspection requirements that are highly regulated by various industry bodies. This cost (including the lost hire) will be amortized over the inspection period and added to the day rate of the rig. 

The average breakdown of operating costs as a percentage of operating rate:

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Value Chain Analysis

Land drilling rigs are build by rig manufactures, with component suppliers of various tiers. Top drive, control system, and mud pump are the key components manufactured by 2nd tier suppliers. There is a significant number of manufacturers globally, who specialize in land rigs. The majority of units are built outside of the Middle East. Major rig builders are:  

  1. KCA Deutag
  2. NOV
  3. RG Petroleum Drilling Rig Group
  4. Lanzhou LS-National Oilwell Petroleum
  5. Lamprell
  6. Bentec 
  7. Veristic
  8. Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd.
  9. MD Cowan
  10. IDM Equipment
  11. Baoji Oilfield Machinery Company (BOMCO)
  12. Honghua
  13. Helmerich & Payne 
  15. Drillmec 
  16. RG Petro Machinery Group
  17. Honghua Group
  18. Kerui Group

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Total Cost of Ownership

Although a turnkey drilling contract is fairly common, the majority of drilling contracts today are based on daily work and contain the following units (may not have all of them):

  • Mob /demob fees - lump sum fee to mobilize a drilling rig, fully capable to drill required type of wells, with all required modifications carried out. 
  • Daily operating rate - a hire rate per day to operate a fully manned drilling rig
  • Standby rate - a hire rate per day to operate a fully manned drilling rig and ready to operate, but waiting on instructions from the client. 
  • Reduced performance rate - a hire rate per day, when a drilling rig is not capable to drill as per original criteria, but still able to operate, e.g. slower drilling speed as a result of a broken pump or lack of sufficient mud tanks. 
  • Repair rate - a hire rate per day, when a drilling rig is undergoing repairs. Generally, a cap is imposed and it could be cumulative up to 48 hrs per month. 
  • Remedial ( re-drill) operation rate - a hire rate per day, that is used when a well was lost a result of a malfunction of the drilling rig and a new well is drilled to the same depth/condition as the lost well. 
  • Standby unmanned rate - a hire rate per day to keep the rig stacked and fully maintained, without the crew 
  • Moving rate - a hire rate per day to operate a drilling rig fully manned and ready to operate, but moving from one location to another.  
  • Force major rate - a hire rate per day during a force major event

While this commercial structure has been effective most of the time, it encourages wasteful behaviour. A compensation mechanism that supports better performance is needed. It could be achieved via bonus structures, or, most recent, footage rates, i.e. paying per foot drilled.

Below a comparison of pricing models in the market and their characteristics:

Points to consider for procurement of land rigs:

  • How fast it can be moved in the desert
  • Handling of hot temperatures
  • Design that allows for fast rig-up/down
  • Transit times between drill sites
  • Ability to drill conventional, horizontal and shale wells
  • A drilling rig that is fit-for-purpose 



The key category objective is securing access to capacity, ensuring service quality and maximizing local value generation. In the accomplishment of this objective, it will be critical to understand supply market dynamics and establish strategies that address particular needs and segments.

  • Demand planning - develop a multiyear rig demand based on drilling programmes
  • Own vs. rent - access the right mix of owned vs. contracted rigs, to ensure secure supply and high-quality drilling services
  • Continue developing local capabilities in higher-end rig segment 
  • Set up a complete local value chain for rig repairs, maintenance and refurbishment  
  • Long term relationships with key rig builders to help to build local capabilities 
  • Closely follow market conditions, capacity utilization, and rig owner�s moves in the market (consolidation). Low utilization represents a large opportunity for buyers.  
  • Consider options to reserve this category for local/domestic companies only 
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