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 a
decrease in the tally of both oil and natural gas-directed rigs.
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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
1,914 for the week ended August 17, 2012. This was down by 17 from
the previous week's count and represents the first decrease in 3
Despite this, the current nationwide rig count is more than double
than that of the 6-year low of 876 (in the week ended June 12,
2009) though it is below the prior-year level of 1,974. 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 descended by 18 to 1,843, offshore
drilling was up by 1 to 51 rigs, while inland waters activity
remained steady at 20 units.
Natural Gas Rig Count:
The natural gas rig count decreased for the fifteenth time in 17
weeks to 484 (a drop of 11 rigs from the previous week). As per the
most recent report, the number of gas-directed rigs is at their
lowest level since July 16, 1999 and is down 48% from its 2011 peak
of 936, reached during mid-October.
The current natural gas rig count remains 70% below its all-time
high of 1,606 reached in late summer 2008. In the year-ago period,
there were 900 active natural gas rigs.
Oil Rig Count:
The oil rig count - which was at a 25-year high of 1,432 in the
previous week - was down by 7 to 1,425. Nevertheless, the current
tally is way above the previous year's rig count of 1,066. It has
recovered strongly from a low of 179 in June 2009, rising by 8
Miscellaneous Rig Count:
The miscellaneous rig count (primarily drilling for geothermal
energy) at 5 was up by 1 from the previous week.
Rig Count by Type:
The number of vertical drilling rigs fell by 11 to 532, 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 down by 6 at
1,382. In particular, horizontal rig units - that reached an
all-time high of 1,193 in May this year - decreased by 8 from the
last week's level to 1,153.