Overall U.S. activity levels weakened during the fourth quarter of 2012. U.S. rig count decreased in our areas of operation by 13% compared to the fourth quarter of 2011 and by 5% compared to the third quarter of 2012. The drop in U.S. demand was largely due to reduced activity over the U.S. Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday periods. As a result of the reduced activity levels, the U.S. pressure pumping market continued to be oversupplied during the fourth quarter and no significant improvements in overall market conditions were noted. Despite the oversupplied market, Trican pricing remained relatively stable on a sequential basis for both contracted and spot market crews.
We made good progress on cost cutting initiatives during the fourth quarter of 2012 with meaningful decreases in product, logistics, and discretionary costs, which contributed to an improvement in sequential operating margins. In addition, guar costs continued to decline as realized guar prices decreased by approximately 28% sequentially and led to an approximate 500 basis point improvement in operating margins.
Due to the weak U.S. operating environment, four U.S. fracturing crews remained idle during the fourth quarter including two new crews that have not been manned and two crews that were previously active. The four idle U.S. crews are expected to remain inactive until U.S. market conditions improve, or a strategic opportunity arises in North America or internationally.
Current Quarter versus Q4 2011
Year-over-year U.S. revenue decreased by 20% as an increase in the job count was more than offset by a decrease in revenue per job. Job count increased by 11% and benefitted from an increase in cementing and coiled tubing activity. Fourth quarter cementing job count increased by 166% and coiled tubing job count increased by 157% compared to the same period in 2011. These increases were offset partially by a 6% decline in fracturing jobs, which compares to the 13% decrease in U.S. rig count. Fourth quarter revenue per job decreased by 28% compared to the fourth quarter of 2011. A year-over-year pricing decline of 13%, a decrease in fracturing revenue as a percentage of total revenue, and a decrease in fracturing job size led to the revenue per job decrease. Fracturing job size has declined due to increased work performed in oil plays, such as the Permian, where job size is generally lower.
As a percentage of revenue, materials and operating expenses increased to 98.6% from 76.3% because of decreased pricing and reduced operational leverage on our fixed cost structure. Despite the recent reductions in guar prices, realized guar costs remained approximately 110% higher compared to the fourth quarter of 2011. The year-over-year increase in guar costs contributed to the lower margins. General and administrative costs increased by $0.7 million due largely to higher insurance and travel costs.
Current Quarter versus Q3 2012
Revenue for the fourth quarter decreased by 13% relative to the third quarter of 2012. The job count decreased by 11% due to reduced oilfield activity as rig count decreased sequentially by 5% in our areas of operations. Fracturing activity was down by approximately 18% as very few fracturing jobs were performed over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday period. In addition, fracturing activity in the fourth quarter was particularly slow for our Bakken crew as job count decreased by 50% sequentially. We are still building our presence in the Bakken and activity levels are expected to be erratic until we establish consistent customer relationships in the region. This decrease was partially offset by increased cement and coiled tubing jobs as we continued to grow these service lines.
Most Popular Stories
- SEO Traffic Lab Celebrate Wins at Digital Marketing Event 'Internet World 2013' in London
- Social Media Initiatives Should Follow Customers' Lead
- Apple CEO: Offshore Units Not a 'Tax Gimmick'
- U.S. Senate Accuses Apple of Large-scale Tax Avoidance
- UTEP Water Recycling Project Wins Venture Titles
- Marketo Makes a Mint in IPO: Stock Shoots Up More than 50 Percent
- Bieber Booed at Billboard Awards
- Crude Oil Up, Gasoline Down
- Austin Startup Compare Metrics Raises $3.5 Million for Expansion
- Why So Many Top 'Car Guys' Are Actually Women