Oil Rig Count Rises by 2, Total Now Up 495 Year Over Year

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In the week ended July 28, 2017, the number of rigs drilling for oil in the United States totaled 766, up by two compared with the prior week and up by 392 compared with a total of 374 a year ago. Including 192 other rigs drilling for natural gas, there are a total of 958 working rigs in the country, up by eight week over week and up by 495 year over year. The data come from the latest Baker Hughes North American Rotary Rig Count, released on Friday.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil for September delivery settled at $49.04 a barrel, up 0.6% on Thursday. Crude prices remained essentially flat after the rig count data were released.

The natural gas rig count increased by six to a total of 192. The count for natural gas rigs is now up by 106 year over year. Natural gas for September delivery traded down about 0.8% at $2.94 per million BTUs before the count was released and remained essentially flat afterward.

For the third of four weeks in July, the total rig count has risen. The increase did not have in immediate effect on either oil or natural gas prices. Oil prices are on track to gain about 8.5% for the week, mostly on the strength of a statement earlier this week from Saudi Arabia that it would begin limiting exports. A couple of new oil rigs that won’t be producing any oil for several months are not going to offset the Saudi export limitation.

Among the states, New Mexico added four rigs, Oklahoma added three rigs, and four states — Louisiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Wyoming — added one rig each. Texas was the only state to lose a rig last week.

In the Permian Basin of west Texas and southeastern New Mexico, the rig count now stands at 379, up five compared with the previous week’s count. The Eagle Ford Basin in south Texas has 76 rigs in operation, two less than a week ago, and the Williston Basin (Bakken) in North Dakota and Montana now has 54 working rigs, unchanged for the week.