The U.S. natural gas rig count was unchanged at 157 for the week ended Friday (Oct. 21), while oil-directed activity gains helped raise the combined domestic tally two units to 771, according to updated figures from Baker Hughes Co. (BKR).

rig count

Net changes domestically included a two-rig increase in oil-directed drilling. Total land rigs increased by one, with one rig added in the Gulf of Mexico. An increase of three horizontal rigs was partially offset by a one-rig decline in vertical drilling.

The combined 771 active U.S. rigs as of Friday compares with 542 rigs running in the year-earlier period, according to the BKR numbers, which are partly based on data from Enverus.

Canada, meanwhile, dropped six units — all oil-directed — to fall to 210 active rigs as of Friday, versus 164 in the year-earlier period.

Tracking changes by major drilling region, the Denver Julesburg-Niobrara Basin saw a notable shift week/week, adding three rigs to raise its total to 20. That’s up from 11 in the year-ago period, according to BKR.

Counting by state, Texas added six rigs week/week, while Colorado added two. On the other side of the ledger, New Mexico posted a four-rig decline for the period. Wyoming added a rig, while Louisiana and Utah each dropped a rig from their respective totals, the BKR data show.

The U.S. oil and natural gas industry is hedging less to avoid leaving money on the table, but overall, operators appear less optimistic regarding their ability to borrow funds, according to a recent survey.

“Strong oil and gas prices are not directly resulting in strong borrowing base increases,” Haynes and Boone LLP researchers said in their fall 2022 Borrowing Base Redetermination Survey. “Despite oil and natural gas prices reaching heights not seen since 2014 (in the case of oil) and 2008 (in the case of natural gas), respondents are not expecting robust borrowing base increases in fall 2022. 

“A meaningful percentage of respondents are predicting that borrowing bases will stay flat or even decrease slightly.” 

Meanwhile, U.S. producers raised oil output modestly in the week-earlier period, growing production by 100,000 b/d to 12.0 million b/d, according to the Energy Information Administration’s latest data.

Output for the week ended Oct. 14 was up by 700,000 b/d from a year earlier, but it was below the 2022 high of 12.2 million b/d and far off the record level of 13.1 million b/d reached in March 2020, prior to the pandemic’s onset.