Despite dropping one natural gas unit, the U.S. rig count showed signs of recovering from a recent slump as oil-directed drilling picked up during the week ended Friday, according to the latest tally by Baker Hughes Inc. (BHI).
The United States finished at 940 rigs for the week, breaking with a recent downtrend that extends back to the summer, when the U.S. count reached as high 958. Six oil-directed units returned, offsetting the one gas rig that left the patch.
The Gulf of Mexico added three units to finish the week at 22 rigs, surpassing its year-ago tally by one. The United States also added three land rigs for the week, according to BHI. Five directional units and four horizontal units were added, while four vertical rigs packed up shop. The U.S. count stood at 522 rigs running a year ago.
In Canada, nine oil-directed rigs packed up as two gas-directed units returned, leaving the Canadian count down seven for the week to 213 (versus 162 a year ago).
The combined North American rig count now stands at 1,153, down two week/week and up from 684 rigs running in the year-ago period.
Interestingly, the more active drilling states of Texas (down two) and Oklahoma (down three) posted declines for the week, while Utah climbed four to lead all states, finishing at 12 rigs -- more than doubling its year-ago total.
Producers have shown some interest in Utah's Uinta Basin this year. In May, Tesoro Corp. and EP Energy Corp. announced a joint venture to fund oil and natural gas development in the play.
Last month, Foothills Exploration Inc. said it planned to re-enter two wells in the Uinta this month as it develops a comprehensive drilling program for acreage acquired last December.
Louisiana added two rigs for the week to end at 67, though those rigs didn't go to work in the Haynesville Shale, which dropped a rig to finish at 44 (versus 13 a year ago).
Among plays, there were no major changes to report. The Cana Woodford, Denver Julesburg-Niobrara, Granite Wash and Permian Basin each saw a rig pack up shop during the week, while the Williston Basin added a rig to finish at an even 50.
This week, QEP Resources Inc. reported lower year-to-date production out of its Williston acreage but said it is moving forward with testing a promising refracturing program in the play, similar to one that has yielded success in the Haynesville.