US Drilling Rig Count at Lowest Point in More Than 5 Years

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In the week ended January 30, the total number of rigs drilling for oil in the United States came in at 1,223, compared with 1,317 in the prior week and 1,422 a year ago. Including 320 other rigs mostly drilling for natural gas, there are a total of 1,543 working rigs in the United States, down 90 week-over-week, and down 242 year-over-year. The data come from the latest Baker Hughes Inc. (NYSE: BHI) North American Rotary Rig Count.

The number of rigs drilling for oil fell by 199 year-over-year and by 94 week-over-week. The natural gas rig count declined by three to 319 week-over-week and by 39 year-over-year.

The two states losing the most rigs were Texas (down 58) and Oklahoma (down 10). North Dakota and Wyoming each lost four and Ohio lost three. California and Pennsylvania were the only states to add to rig counts during the week, and each added just one.

In the Permian Basin of west Texas, the rig count dropped 27 to bring the total down to 454; the Eagle Ford Basin in south Texas lost three rigs and now has 178 working; and the Williston Basin (Bakken) has 148 working rigs, down five from the prior week.

As of Wednesday, the posted price for Williston Basin sweet crude was just $28.19 a barrel and Williston sour was all the way down to $19.08 a barrel. Eagle Ford Light crude sold for $41 a barrel, the same as West Texas Intermediate (WTI). The difference reflects transportation costs (as well as an adjustment for specific gravity and sulfur content) of around $13 a barrel to get Bakken sweet crude to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

The state of North Dakota’s legislative council said on Thursday that it had lowered its forecast for oil and gas tax revenues from a total of $8.3 billion to $4.3 billion for the two-year budget cycle beginning in June of this year. While the state’s budget will experience a decline of about $550 million over the two years, distribution of the tax collections to various counties will take a bigger hit.

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