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Rigs: Back to The Wash, Haynesville, Too

Data from the latest Baker Hughes Inc. (BHI) rig count shows drillers going back to the Granite Wash of the Texas Panhandle and western Oklahoma. They're also continuing their return to Louisiana's Haynesville Shale.

The Granite Wash picked up five rigs during the week just ended to rest at 13 units running, according to BHI; that's three more than the play had a year ago.

The Wash is one of the deeper unconventional formations in North America, lying at depths between 10,000 and 14,500 feet. There are a number of layered washes, or zones, within the play. Gas in the Granite Wash tends to be liquids-rich, with natural gas liquids and condensate typically accounting for 30-40% of well production. Just below the Granite Wash is the Atoka Wash, which has five intervals of its own but is more of a dry gas formation. Atop the Granite Wash are several oilier intervals, most notably the Tonkawa, Cleveland, Hogshooter and the Marmaton.

Three rigs came back to the Haynesville, bringing its working rig tally to 34, more than twice what it was a year ago. While most of the rig gains during the drilling comeback have been oil units, the dry gas Haynesville has drawn increasing attention, in part because of its proximity to Gulf Coast petrochemical plant and liquefied natural gas export demand, which is growing.

Among the states, Texas again was the big winner, adding 16 rigs during the week to end at 378 running, which is well above the 236 tally of a year ago. Only two of those rigs came back to the Permian, though. The Barnett and Eagle Ford each added two rigs as well. Despite gains in the Haynesville, Louisiana dropped three rigs, making it the week's biggest loser.

For the week, 13 U.S. land-based rigs came back to bring that tally to 730. The land gain was offset by the departure of three rigs from the offshore. Six directionals and seven horizontals came back, offset by the departure of three vertical units. Overall, six U.S. oil and four natural gas rigs returned. Canada dropped 21 rigs (13 oil and eight gas).

As rigs come back, so does production, noted analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

"The recent pick-up in active oil rigs is partly behind the impending rebound in output. Yet, productivity gains are another major factor," they said in a note to clients out Wednesday. "The easiest way to measure this on the rig level is by looking at oil production per rig in new wells. Results are astonishing, with steep increases every month in all the major shale basins, although the Permian is starting to look relatively more mature on this measure..."

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