Energy Economy

US Oil Rig Count Drops by 8, Total Rig Count Down by 11

Paul Ausick

In the week ended November 3, 2017, the number of rigs drilling for oil in the United States totaled 729, eight fewer compared with the prior week and up by 279 compared with a total of 450 a year ago. Including 169 other rigs drilling for natural gas, there are a total of 898 working rigs in the country, 11 fewer week over week and up by 329 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 $54.54 a barrel on Thursday and traded up about 0.8% Friday afternoon at $55.00.

The natural gas rig count decreased by three to a total of 169 this week. The count for natural gas rigs is now up by 52 year over year. Natural gas for December delivery traded up about 2% at around $2.99 per million BTUs before the count was released and moved up a penny following the report’s release.

The January delivery price for Brent crude topped $61 a barrel in Friday’s trading on the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE). Brent traded as high as $61.66 early this week.

The differential between Brent and WTI clocked in at about $6.20 a barrel after the rig count report was released. The wide spread between the two benchmark varieties encourages exporting crude from the United States, particularly to South America and Europe.

Among the states, Colorado and Texas each gained four rigs last week, while Alaska added two new rigs. Oklahoma lost eight rigs, Louisiana lost four rigs, and New Mexico and North Dakota each had two fewer rigs. Utah also lost a rig in the week.

In the Permian Basin of west Texas and southeastern New Mexico, the rig count now stands at 380, one more compared with the previous week’s count. The Eagle Ford Basin in south Texas has 65 rigs in operation, unchanged week over week, and the Williston Basin (Bakken) in North Dakota and Montana now has 48 working rigs, down one for the week.