The U.S. natural gas rig count climbed one unit to finish at 98 for the week ended Friday (June 25), while a small decline in oil rigs left the overall domestic tally flat for the period, according to data from Baker Hughes Co. (BKR).

rig count June 25

One oil-directed rig exited the patch in the United States during the week. The combined U.S. count remained unchanged at 470 active rigs, up sharply from the 265 rigs running in the year-ago period, according to the BKR numbers, which are based partly on data from Enverus.

While the U.S. count held flat week/week, more than 100 rigs have been added domestically since the start of the year amid continued recovery from the drilling lows observed during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, BKR data show.

The Gulf of Mexico added a rig for the week to end with 14, up from 11 a year ago. Five directional rigs were added in the United States, while four horizontal rigs and one vertical rig exited the patch.

The Canadian rig count surged nine units higher to reach 126, up from 13 in the year-earlier period. Gains there included eight oil-directed rigs and one natural gas-directed.

Broken down by major play, the Cana Woodford saw a net gain of two rigs week/week, while the Ardmore Woodford, Barnett Shale and Permian Basin each dropped one rig from their respective totals.

Broken down by state, Alaska saw a net gain of one rig for the week, while California saw a net loss of one rig overall, the BKR data show.

Oil and natural gas executives working in northern Louisiana, southern New Mexico and across the state of Texas are optimistic that commodity prices will continue to climb this year, along with activity, according to a recent survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

Henry Hub natural gas prices are expected to average $3.10/MMBtu by year’s end, respondents said. The low forecast averaged $2.20, with the high at $5.00. 

In the 1Q2021 survey, executives had pegged the end-of-year gas price at $2.80. Spot prices during the survey period averaged $3.24.

For West Texas Intermediate (WTI) oil, prices are forecast to average $70/bbl by the end of 2021; responses ranged from $49 to $85. WTI spot averaged $71 during the survey period.