Lower Oil Begets Lower Rig Counts… Again (BHI, USO, OIL)

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It looked for a moment as though the oil and gas rig counts were finally stabilizing.  Prices had recovered sharply from lows and were challenging $70.00.  But as you can tell, this is all in the past tense.  Baker Hughes Incorporated (NYSE: BHI) has released its newest data on rig counts.   The United States Oil (NYSE: USO) ETF is down 1.3% at $32.33 and the iPath S&P GSCI Crude Oil Total Return Index ETN (NYSE: OIL) is down 1.3% at $21.15 as oil itself is down by $075 to $59.66 per barrel for NYMEX WTI Crude.

The end of month data was a bit mixed and perhaps a bit misleading because there had been a trend of stabilization.  But the new count reflects the data as of July 9 as oil prices have slid further from last week:

U.S. Rig Count is down 12 from last week at 916; down 1,006 year over year.

Canadian Rig Count is up 13 from last week at 178; down 236 year over year.

The US Offshore rig count is 37, down 5 from last week; down 30 year over year.

For T. Boone Pickens to be right on his call for higher oil in 2009 to 2010, we’d think that oil rig activity would have to be higher.  The problem with the logic is that this is a chicken versus egg conundrum.  Rig counts grow when oil prices rise, and the rig count direction generally lags the movement in prices.

Jon C. Ogg
July 10, 2009