The U.S. natural gas rig count increased by two units to reach 171 for the period ended Aug. 2, partially offsetting another down week in the oil patch, according to data from Baker Hughes, GE Company (BHGE).
Including a six-rig drop in oil-directed drilling, the U.S. rig count eased four units overall to end the week at 942. The combined domestic rig count finished 102 units behind its year-ago tally of 1,044. Three units departed on land, along with one in the Gulf of Mexico. The number of directional and vertical units held flat for the week, while four horizontal units packed up.
In Canada, 10 units returned to action, including six oil-directed and four gas-directed. That lifted the Canadian rig count to 137 for the week, down sharply from 223 a year ago. The combined North American rig count finished the week at 1,079, versus 1,267 last year, according to BHGE.
Drilling totals were steady across most major plays for the week. Two rigs exited the Granite Wash, while one each departed from the Cana Woodford and the Permian Basin. The Haynesville Shale added one rig for the week to grow its total to 52, up from 48 a year ago.
Among states, Oklahoma saw a net decline of five rigs on the week, dropping its total to 88, down from 137 a year ago. New Mexico saw two rigs pack up for the week, while one exited the patch in Louisiana.
Also among states, Alaska added three units on the week, while Texas added one.
The latest tick lower in the U.S. rig count coincides with a round of comments from upstream operators hinting at uncertain times ahead for exploration and production activity.
Earlier in the week, management for oilfield services company Nabors Industries Ltd. noted a more cautious approach by Lower 48 customers.
The company owns and operates the world’s largest land-based drilling rig fleet, as well as offshore drilling rigs. It has around 100 super-specification rigs, with more than one-third contracted by oil majors.
"For our industry, the quarter was marked by continued gradual softening of drilling activity in the Lower 48 and a more positive outlook internationally,” CEO Tony Petrello said of second quarter results. “We are seeing the same broad market trends and expect they will continue throughout the third quarter.”