The latest rig tally changes in U.S. unconventional plays were fairly modest across the board compared to some previous iterations of the Baker Hughes Inc. rig count. Notably, declines in the Eagle Ford Shale and the Permian Basin appear to have moderated as high grading and efficiency advances take hold there and across the shales.

As has been the case of late, declines across basins were rather evenly distributed compared with past months when plays such as the tall-in-stature Eagle Ford Shale and Permian Basin were taking the biggest haircuts.

Losing three rigs each were the Utica Shale and Williston Basin. The Permian, Mississippian and Granite Wash each lost two rigs, as did the Eaglebine of East Texas. The Barnett and Eagle Ford were each down by one, while the Cana Woodford, Haynesville, Marcellus and Tuscaloosa Marine Shale were each up by one.

Analysts at BMO Capital Markets, led by Phillip Jungwirth, wrote Thursday that the Midland Basin south to north (a sub-basin of the Permian) and the Utica Shale wet to dry "have experienced the largest increases in [well] productivity, while the Delaware, Bakken and Eagle Ford have averaged mid-single digit increases over the last year."

Additionally, BMO said, enhanced completion technology has boosted productivity and delayed the expected rollover in U.S. oil production. "We analyzed average well productivity across the major shale plays and concluded that the largest increases have been achieved in the Eagle Ford and Marcellus," the analysts wrote.

Overall, the count of active U.S. drilling rigs issued Friday (June 26) gained by two to rest at 859 as the count saw modest changes across plays and some comparatively big gains for natural gas-focused rigs, vertical rigs and for the state of Louisiana.

Five natural gas-directed rigs came back to the game while three oil-directed rigs left. Vertical rigs gained seven, rising from 100 to 107, and the horizontal category lost eight soldiers, falling to 654 from 662. Directional rigs gained three to end at 98.

Among the states, Louisiana was by far the biggest gainer, adding six rigs to the active column to end the week at 75, still far from its year-ago tally of 107. North Dakota and Ohio each lost three rigs to end at 74 and 17, respectively, also far off from their respective year-ago tallies of 171 and 41. Texas lost two rigs -- a modest decline for the Lone Star State in recent months -- ending at 361, which is miles from its year-ago tally of 889 active rigs.