The number of drilling rigs working in the United States as of last Friday totaled 1,676, down by 74 from the previous week’s total. The week ending January 16 saw the highest one-week drop in the number of working rigs in more than six years.
Of those working rigs, 1,610 are land-based, 54 are operating offshore and 12 are working inland waters. The weekly count is prepared by Baker Hughes Inc. (NYSE: BHI).
The decline in oil rigs comprised the entire loss of 74 working rigs last week. The number of directional drilling rigs shut down totaled eight, and 48 horizontal rigs were idled. Drillers also stopped work with 18 vertical rigs.
The Permian Basin lost 15 rigs last week, on top of 28 the week before, to bring the basin’s total to 487, its lowest total since February of last year. The Williston Basin, home to the Bakken field, lost six rigs last week to bring its total rig count down 14 for the past two weeks to a total of 165. Both fields hit their 12-month highs for rig count last fall, with 562 rigs in the Permian and 198 in the Williston.
The Eagle Ford play dropped 12 rigs last week and now has 185 working rigs in the field. A year ago there were 225 rigs in the Eagle Ford, its highest total for the previous 12 months.
The rig count in the Gulf of Mexico was unchanged at 53, compared with a high of 66 in September. A total of 44 of the 53 rigs in the Gulf are oil rigs.
Most industry experts believe that production needs to slow down before prices rise to a level that would support additional drilling. They also agree that production will not slow down for at least the first half of this year. The most recent estimates from the U.S. Energy Information Administration continue to project production growth for 2015, although at a slower pace.
The current U.S. rig count of 1,676 is 101 fewer than the total of 1,777 at the same time last year.