The U.S. natural gas rig count eased one unit lower to 159 for the week ended Friday (Aug. 19), while oil activity held steady, according to updated numbers from oilfield services provider Baker Hughes Co. (BKR).

rig count

Total domestic oil-directed rigs went unchanged week/week at 601. The combined U.S. count dropped one unit to 762, versus 503 rigs running in the year-earlier period, according to the BKR numbers, which are based partly on data from Enverus.

Land drilling declined by one unit in the United States for the week, while the Gulf of Mexico count finished unchanged at 16. Horizontal units increased by one, while total vertical rigs were down two.

The Canadian rig count was similarly steady for the week, as no net change in either oil- or natural gas-directed activity saw total rigs running there remain flat at 201. That’s up from 156 in the year-ago period, the BKR data show.

Broken down by major drilling region, the Permian Basin count eased one unit lower to 345 for the week, versus 247 in the year-ago period. The Cana Woodford also dropped one rig from its total, falling to 24, up from 17 a year ago.

Counting by state, Texas posted a three-rig decline week/week, while New Mexico added two rigs, according to BKR.

U.S. crude inventories fell by 7.06 million bbl for the week ending Aug. 12, a much larger draw than expected, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said in its most recent weekly petroleum report.

EIA said the inventory declined compared to a build of 5.5 million bbl in the previous week. The American Petroleum Institute on Tuesday had estimated a crude draw of 448,000 bbl. 

Meanwhile, natural gas production from seven key U.S. onshore regions is set to surge to slightly shy of 94 Bcf/d from August to September, with the largest share of incremental output growth expected from the Haynesville Shale, the agency said in a separate report published earlier in the week.

The Haynesville is on track to post a monthly increase of 192 MMcf/d, which would see its August output reach 15.835 Bcf/d. Output gains are also forecast from the Permian (167 MMcf/d), Appalachia (154 MMcf/d), Eagle Ford (116 MMcf/d), Bakken (34 MMcf/d) and Niobrara (11 MMcf/d) regions.