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US oil companies step up pace of new-well drilling

US drilling for oil and gas during the first five months of 1980 totaled 24, 666 wells -- nearly one-third more than in the same period of 1979, Petroleum Information Corporation says.

The five-month total compares with 18,590 wells completed at the same time last year. It is more than half the 1979 total of 49,101 wells. Indications are that completions this year will significantly exceed the 1979 drilling total , which was the highest since 1956.

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The wells drilled in the first five months included 12,065 oil wells and 6, 048 gas wells. Increases in oil-well drilling were reported in all three of PI's major well categories: wildcat wells, other exploratory wells, and development wells.