US Oil Rig Count Steady, Crude Price Slips Less Than 1% for the Week

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In the week ended November 17, 2017, the number of rigs drilling for oil in the United States totaled 738, unchanged from the prior week and up by 267 compared with a total of 471 a year ago. Including 177 other rigs drilling for natural gas, there are a total of 915 working rigs in the country, eight more week over week and up by 327 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 December delivery settled at $55.14 a barrel on Thursday and traded up about 2.4% Friday afternoon at $56.46 shortly before regular trading closed.

The natural gas rig count rose by eight to a total of 177 this week. The count for natural gas rigs is now up by 61 year over year. Natural gas for December delivery traded up about 2.2%, at around $3.12 per million BTUs, before the count was released and was essentially unchanged following the report’s release.

The sharp increase in natural gas rigs follows on the heels of more pipeline takeaway capacity from the Permian Basin. New takeaway capacity is also coming online in the Marcellus play early next year to transport another 3.75 billion cubic feet of gas per day to markets.

Crude oil prices are regaining some of the ground they lost earlier this week after reports that the global oversupply would not be cleared until at least the middle of next year. Demand for crude and petroleum products remains strong.

Among the states, Texas added seven rigs last week and Louisiana added four. Ohio and Utah each added one rig. Six states lost one rig each last week: Alaska, Colorado, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Wyoming.

In the Permian Basin of west Texas and southeastern New Mexico, the rig count now stands at 391, up by five compared with the previous week’s count. The Eagle Ford Basin in south Texas has 67 rigs in operation, unchanged week over week, and the Williston Basin (Bakken) in North Dakota and Montana now has 47 working rigs, down one for the week.