The U.S. natural gas rig count went unchanged at 151 during the week ended Friday (June 3) amid minor regional adjustments to domestic upstream activity levels, while the Canadian oil count soared, the latest figures from Baker Hughes Co. (BKR) show.

rigs

Both oil- and natural gas-directed drilling totals were unchanged in the United States for the period. Land drilling was steady at 710, and the Gulf of Mexico count also held flat at 15. The United States ended with a combined 727 active U.S. rigs as of Friday, versus 456 rigs running in the year-earlier period, according to the BKR numbers, which are partly based on data from Enverus.

The Canadian rig count, meanwhile, jumped 14 units higher to end the week at 117, versus 77 in the year-ago period. A net increase of 17 oil-directed units there was partially offset by a three-rig decline in natural gas-directed drilling.

In the regional breakdown, among major basins, the Cana Woodford, Denver Julesburg-Niobrara and the Haynesville each saw one-rig declines for the week. 

Counting by state, Wyoming added two rigs for the period, while California, North Dakota and Texas each posted one-rig declines, the BKR data show.

Natural gas and oil demand has risen since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, but exploration and production (E&P) executives in first quarter conference calls clung to capital discipline, favoring shareholder returns over boosting output.

With the quarter now in the rearview mirror, a myriad of questions remains to determine the direction of U.S. activity this year by the E&Ps and oilfield services companies. Inflation, labor and supply chain issues are delaying some activity. However, will shunning Russian gas and oil lead U.S. companies to ramp up?

“The reality is that energy markets were already tightening from supply and demand fundamentals before this Russian action, and the risk premium now embedded in commodities, including oil and gas, has returned with a vengeance,” Marathon Oil Corp. CEO Lee Tillman said during the quarterly call. 

U.S. crude production held even for a third consecutive week as global supply concerns intensified amid sanctions against Russia’s energy complex, the latest available U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) data showed recently.

U.S. oil production totaled 11.9 million b/d for the week-earlier period, a peak level for the year but flat with the prior two weeks. Output remains more than 1 million b/d below the pre-pandemic highs of early 2020 as producers try to strike a balance between the investor demands and global calls for more oil.