US Oil Rig Count Rises by 3; Crude Price Maintains Small Gain

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In the week ended March 2, 2018, the number of land rigs drilling for oil in the United States totaled 800, one more than in the previous week and up by 191 compared with a total of 609 a year ago. Including 181 other land rigs drilling for natural gas, there are a total of 981 working rigs in the country, three more week over week and up by 225 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 April delivery settled at $60.99 a barrel on Thursday and traded up about 0.3% Friday afternoon at $61.15 shortly before regular trading closes.

The natural gas rig count increased by 2 to 181 this week. The count for natural gas rigs is now up by 35 year over year. Natural gas for April delivery traded up about 0.3% at around $2.71 per million BTUs, and up 5 cents since last Friday.

Crude oil prices have been slipping this week thanks to a larger-than-expected increase to U.S. inventories. U.S. production continues to rise and has now reached nearly 10.3 million barrels a day.

Pump prices have been easing for the past few weeks, but AAA has warned that by spring U.S. drivers will be paying around $2.70 a gallon on average for regular gasoline. Some Americans will begin changing their driving habits if prices continue to rise.

Among the states, Baker Hughes reported that Oklahoma added three rigs last week while Oklahoma and Alaska added two each. New Mexico and Texas each added one rig in the week. Colorado lost three rigs in the week, North Dakota lost two and Louisiana dropped one rig.

In the Permian Basin of west Texas and southeastern New Mexico, the rig count now stands at 434, one less compared with the previous week’s count. The Eagle Ford Basin in south Texas has 70 rigs in operation, unchanged week over week, and the Williston Basin (Bakken) in North Dakota and Montana now has 48 working rigs, down by two for the week.

Producers added five new horizontal rigs last week to raise the count to 847, while offshore drillers dropped three working rigs to bring the offshore total to 14, down four compared to last year’s total for the same period.