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 fall can be attributed to a
decrease in the tally of both oil and natural gas-directed rigs.
BAKER-HUGHES (BHI): Free Stock Analysis
DIAMOND OFFSHOR (DO): Free Stock Analysis
NOBLE CORP (NE): Free Stock Analysis Report
TRANSOCEAN LTD (RIG): Free Stock Analysis
To read this article on Zacks.com click here.
The Baker Hughes rig count, issued since 1944, acts as an
important yardstick for drilling contractors like
), etc. in gauging the overall business environment of the oil
and gas industry.
Analysis of the Data
Rigs engaged in exploration and production in the U.S. totaled
1,749 for the week ended Jan 18, 2013. This was down by 12 from
the previous week's rig count and indicates the eighth decrease
in as many weeks.
Despite this, the current nationwide rig count is almost double
than that of the lowest level reached in recent years (876 in the
week ended June 12, 2009), though it is way below the prior-year
level of 2,008. It rose to a 22-year high in 2008, peaking at
2,031 in the weeks ending Aug 29 and Sep 12.
Rigs engaged in land operations descended by 12 to 1,679,
offshore drilling was down by 2 to 51 rigs, while inland waters
activity increased by 2 to 19 units.
Natural Gas Rig Count:
The natural gas rig count - which slumped to a 13-year low in
early November 2012 - decreased for the second successive week to
429 (a drop of 5 rigs from the previous week). As per the most
recent report, the number of gas-directed rigs is down 47% from
its 2012 peak of 811. The current natural gas rig count remains
73% below its all-time high of 1,606 reached in late summer 2008.
Oil Rig Count:
The oil rig count - which was at a 25-year high of 1,432 in
August last year - fell by 7 to 1,316. Nevertheless, the current
tally is way above the previous year's rig count of 1,223. It has
recovered strongly from a low of 179 in June 2009, rising 7.4
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 18 to 442 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
6 to 1,307. In particular, horizontal rig units - that reached an
all-time high of 1,193 in May 2012 - increased by 8 from the last
week's level to 1,127.
As of now, Transocean, Diamond Offshore and Noble are all Zacks
Rank #3 (Hold) stocks, implying that these are expected to
perform in line with the broader U.S. equity market over the next
one to three months.