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Natural Gas Rigs Mostly Still Benched as Drillers Call Up Oil Units

Natural Gas rigs continued to mostly sit out the return to activity as the most recent week of Baker Hughes Inc. (BHI) data showed a robust increase in the number of active oil rigs.

The United States saw a net gain of 17 rigs for the week ending Friday (Aug. 12), but only two of these were natural gas-directed units.

Eighteen U.S. land rigs went back to work while one left the inland waters. Thirteen horizontal rigs returned, accompanied by four vertical units.

Canada saw the net return of four rigs; five oil rigs came back offset by the departure of one from the “miscellaneous” category to make for a total of 126 running (65 oil and 60 natural gas).

That made for a net North America gain of 21 rigs to 607 running. Of these, 481 were in the United States and 461 of that number were land rigs. The United States had 396 oil rigs running and 83 natural gas units along with two “miscellaneous” rigs.

Texas was the big gainer for the week, adding 13 rigs to 230 running, still a far cry from the year-ago level of 389. The Permian Basin saw the return of 12 rigs, bringing it to 189 active, compared with 255 one year ago. Other states and plays were flat or up or down by only one unit.

Permitting in the Lone Star State is still down compared with year-ago levels.

The Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) issued 631 original drilling permits in July compared to 979 in July 2015. The July total included 514 permits to drill new oil or gas wells, seven to re-enter plugged wellbores and 110 for recompletions of existing well bores. July permits issued included 166 oil, 34 gas, 397 oil or gas, 27 injection, zero service and seven “other.”

And Texas well completions are down, too.

In July RRC staff processed 568 oil, 243 gas, 44 injection and one other completions compared to 1,510 oil, 235 gas, 37 injection and nine other completions in July 2015. Total well completions for 2016 year to date are 7,285, down from 13,333 recorded during the same period in 2015.

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