The U.S. natural gas rig count fell four units to 125 during the week ended Friday, while the oil patch enjoyed a big upswing following months of retrenchment, according to the latest data from Baker Hughes Co. (BKR).
Led by an 18-rig increase in oil-directed drilling, the combined U.S. rig count jumped 14 units to 813 for the week, 267 units behind its year-ago total of 1,080.
Most of the gains occurred on land, with one rig added in the Gulf of Mexico and another added in inland waters, according to BKR. The net gains included 13 horizontal rigs and two vertical units, partially offset by a decline of one directional rig.
The Canadian rig count eased four units to 149 for the week, with a decline of eight oil rigs offsetting the addition of four gas rigs. The Canadian count ended the period 18 units higher than the 131 rigs active a year ago.
The combined North American rig count finished the week at 962, down from 1,211 at this time last year.
Among plays, the Permian Basin saw the largest weekly gain, picking up 14 units to climb to 414, versus 486 in the year-ago period. The Eagle Ford Shale also saw a sharp uptick for the week, picking up seven rigs to reach 67. That’s versus 80 rigs active at the same time last year.
Also among plays, two rigs departed the Cana Woodford for the week. The Barnett Shale added one rig, while the Marcellus Shale and Williston Basin each dropped one.
Among states, the Texas count surged 18 rigs week/week, buoyed by the Permian and Eagle Ford. Louisiana added two rigs week/week, while New Mexico and Oklahoma each added one.
Also among states, Wyoming dropped two rigs on the week, while California, Kansas, North Dakota and Pennsylvania each dropped one.
Drilling permits in oil formations rose to 465 in the first week of December, up 91% from the final week of November, as activity remained consistent in Texas and in the Midwest, along with the Bakken Shale bouncing back, according to a tally by Evercore ISI.
Analyst James West and his crew crunched the numbers using individual state and federal data and found Gulf Coast permitting, which covers all of Texas, climbed week/week by 49% in the first week of December, while Midwest permitting jumped by 84%.
“Improving activity in the Gulf Coast is primarily related to an increase in the Permian to 140,” rising by 36% week/week, and in the Eagle Ford Shale, where 63 permits were issued, which was 152% higher than the final week of October, according to Evercore.