Oil Rig Count Up by 393 From Year Ago; Crude Oil Price Inches Higher

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The number of rigs drilling for oil in the United States in the week ended July 21 totaled 764, up by 393 from a year ago. Including 186 other rigs drilling for natural gas, there are 950 working rigs in the country, up by 488 the same from last year. The data come from the latest Baker Hughes North American Rotary Rig Count released on Friday.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil for August delivery settled at $46.79 a barrel, down 0.7% on Thursday, the contract’s final day of trading. WTI for September delivery traded down 2.4% on Friday at $45.75. Crude prices added a few cents to trade at $45.83 after the rig count data were released.

The natural gas rig count decreased by 1 to a total of 186. The count for natural gas rigs is now up by 98 year over year. Natural gas for September delivery traded down about 1.4% at $2.99 per million BTUs before the count was released and remained essentially flat afterward.

A report out earlier today from Petro-Logistics indicated that crude oil output from OPEC is on track to rise by 145,000 barrels a day in July. June production rose by 393,000 barrels a day as both Nigerian and Libyan output jumped. Petro-Logistics told Reuters that July’s output rise is driven by increased production in Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, and the United Arab Emirates.

The one-rig drop in the rig count can’t do much to lift crude prices, and it certainly won’t overcome the projected OPEC production increase.

Among the states, Texas and Oklahoma each lost three rigs last week, New Mexico lost two, and Alaska lost one. California added two rigs while North Dakota and Utah each added one rig during the week.

In the Permian Basin of west Texas and southeastern New Mexico, the rig count now stands at 374, up one from the previous week. The Eagle Ford Basin in south Texas has 78 rigs in operation, down two2 week over week, and the Williston Basin (Bakken) in North Dakota and Montana now has 54 working rigs, up one for the week.