In its weekly release, Houston-based oilfield services company
Baker Hughes Inc.
) reported a dip in the U.S. rig count (number of rigs searching
for oil and gas in the country).
This can be attributed to cutbacks in the tally of gas-directed
rigs, partially offset by increase in oil rig count. In particular,
the natural gas rig count dropped for the eighth time in 9 weeks to
touch another near 13-year low., while oil drilling jumped to a new
The Baker Hughes rig count, issued since 1944, acts as an
important yardstick for drilling contractors such as
Helmerich & Payne
), etc. in gauging the overall business environment of the oil and
Analysis of the Data
Rigs engaged in exploration and production in the U.S. totaled
1,966 for the week ended June 22, 2012. This was down by 5 from the
previous week's count and represents the fourth decrease in the
past 5 weeks.
Despite this, the current nationwide rig count is more than
double that of the 6-year low of 876 (in the week ended June 12,
2009) and comfortably exceeds the prior-year level of 1,882. It
rose to a 22-year high in 2008, peaking at 2,031 in the weeks
ending August 29 and September 12.
Rigs engaged in land operations inched up by 1 to 1,900, while
inland waters activity and offshore drilling were down by 3 each at
18 and 48 units, respectively
Natural Gas Rig Count:
The natural gas rig count decreased for the eighth time in 9 weeks
to 541 (a drop of 21 rigs from the previous week). As per the most
recent report, the number of gas-directed rigs is at their lowest
level since August 20, 1999 and is down more than 42% from its 2011
peak of 936, reached during mid-October.
The current natural gas rig count remains 66% below its all-time
high of 1,606 reached in late summer 2008. In the year-ago period,
there were 873 active natural gas rigs.
Oil Rig Count:
The oil rig count was up by 16 to 1,421. The current tally - the
highest since Baker Hughes started breaking up oil and natural gas
rig counts in 1987 - is way above the previous year's rig count of
1,003. It has recovered strongly from a low of 179 in June 2009,
rising by nearly 8 times.
Miscellaneous Rig Count:
The miscellaneous rig count (primarily drilling for geothermal
energy) at 4 remained unchanged from the previous week.
Rig Count by Type:
The number of vertical drilling rigs fell by 8 to 568, while the
horizontal/directional rig count (encompassing new drilling
technology that has the ability to drill and extract gas from dense
rock formations, also known as shale formations) was up by 3 at
1,398. In particular, horizontal rig units - that reached an
all-time high of 1,193 in May this year - increased by 3 from last
week's level to 1,165.
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