First quarter drilling figures from the UK show a 41% decrease from first quarter 2008 and an 18% decrease from the 4th quarter 2008 according to a recent report by Deloitte. The report notes that the decline can be solely attributed to a dramatic tail off in exploration drilling which is down 78% over numbers for the same period last year. The number of appraisal wells, on the other hand, matches exactly the number for the previous year. Total wells spudded in the UK sector in the first quarter of 2009 was 18. Nearly half were in the Central North Sea while only 11% were in the Northern North Sea. Of the balance, 28% were in the Southern North Sea and 17% in the Moray Firth. This activity mirrors a general trend worldwide, a trend that we have seen in every downturn. Exploration drops while operators use their tightened funds to drill existing acreage, often to meet lease terms and hold the acreage until better times return. However this downturn is unlike the others the industry has experienced. It occurs in concert with a general, global economic melt down. While strong economies drove the rapid recovery of the industry in earlier downturns, that scenario is not likely now. The industry will recover slowly with the recovering global economy. What this means is that, if the downturn continues for a while longer, there will be a dearth of new prospects as we come out of the downturn, further slowing recovery. While this is not a pleasant point to consider we must bear it in mind as we position the industry to recover.