The U.S. natural gas rig count rose one unit to 116 during the week ended Friday (Feb. 4), with rising activity on land offsetting a decline in Gulf of Mexico (GOM) rigs for the period, according to updated numbers from Baker Hughes Co. (BKR).
Gains in the United States for the week also included two oil-directed rigs, helping lift the combined U.S. count to 613, up 221 units from its year-earlier total of 392, according to the BKR numbers, which are partly based on data from Enverus.
Land drilling increased by five units for the period, while the GOM count fell two units to 16, flat year/year. Three vertical units and two horizontal units were added during the week, partially offset by a two-rig decrease in directional drilling.
The Canadian rig count climbed one unit to 218, up from 171 a year ago, with the net change reflecting an uptick in oil-directed drilling for the period.
Broken down by major basin, the Williston posted the largest week/week gain, picking up four rigs to grow its total to 31, up sharply from 12 in the year-earlier period. Elsewhere among plays, the Granite Wash, Permian Basin and Utica Shale each added one rig to their respective totals. The Arkoma Woodford, Cana Woodford and Marcellus Shale each dropped a rig.
In the state-by-state count, BKR recorded gains of three rigs each in North Dakota and Texas, with Alaska adding two rigs for the period to end with eight overall. Ohio and West Virginia each added one rig for the period.
On the other side of the ledger, Louisiana, New Mexico and Pennsylvania each saw two rigs exit week/week, while California and Oklahoma each posted one-rig declines for the period, the BKR numbers show.
Citing robust demand and fading pandemic worries, policymakers from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), headed by Saudi Arabia, and a Russia-led group of allies known as OPEC-plus, said recently that they aim to boost output by 400,000 b/d next month.
The effort would continue a targeted rate of monthly supply increases the cartel began in August to gradually unwind production cuts of nearly 10 million b/d made in April 2020 amid the initial demand destruction imposed by the coronavirus.
Rystad Energy analyst Bjørnar Tonhaugen said American producers and others outside of OPEC-plus also are likely to raise output this year to meet demand and capitalize on favorable prices.
“Prices are far-far above breakeven…from anywhere from the U.S. shale patch to offshore, not to mention onshore fields in the Middle East,” Tonhaugen said. “From an operator’s economical perspective, investments and supply should see a positive jolt some months down the line this year and into the next.”
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