Leaders from two large US onshore rig contractors said their expectations that the rig-count slide would hit a second-quarter bottom were off and are now refraining from making new predictions as to when it will end. Moving their directional drillers into their Houston real-time remote operations centers has improved drilling efficiency for two of the top shale producers. Regulators say the blowout that killed five workers on a Patterson-UTI rig in Oklahoma was the product of a slow-moving series of missed signals, misleading testing, and miscalculations that failed to control a natural gas influx. The biggest drilling company appears interested in becoming the most innovative. It is testing inventions ranging from a blowout preventer that is not hydraulically powered to power systems designed like a hybrid car.