Until recently, the hardest-hit drilling markets were those hosting proportionally more shallow, vertical wells. Now the horizontal rig count has fallen to where its decline—previously moderated compared with the vertical rigs’ collapse—now accounts for more than half the overall pullback in US land rigs, reports RigData’s Land Rig Newsletter. During March more than three-fourths of the month-to-month decline (-196 rigs) entailed operators idling horizontal rigs. Looking at the 336 operators drilling in February, 174 drilled only 1 new well that month—two-thirds of which were vertical. Four months ago, 314 operators drilled just 1 well, of which 248 were vertical. Thus small operators most impact the rig count by dropping out of the equation altogether, as they react quickly to commodity price swings due to their focus on incremental vertical wells. Conversely, the largest operators tend to rein drilling campaigns by trimming the number of wells on pads. Even pad drilling’s greater efficiency seems overwhelmed by capex cuts, resulting in horizontal well counts that now track overall rig count trends.