Rig Count U.S.

The U.S. natural gas rig count fell one unit to 69 during the week ending Friday (Aug. 21), a small decline overshadowed by a decisive uptick in oil-directed activity, the latest data from Baker Hughes Co. (BKR) show.

For the first time since the widespread adoption of measures to limit the spread of Covid-19 began hammering energy demand earlier this year, the United States added rigs on a week/week basis. The U.S. count climbed 10 rigs overall, powered by an 11-rig increase in oil activity. That left the combined domestic tally at 254 for the week, down from 916 in the year-ago period.

Friday’s data marked the first weekly increase in the oilfield services company’s combined U.S. rig count since the week ending March 6. At that time, the domestic count stood at 793. What followed was a months-long deterioration in drilling activity as energy markets and the broader economy underwent upheaval due to the pandemic.

For the most recent week, 14 horizontal rigs returned to action in the United States, partially offset by the departure of four directional units. Land drilling increased by 10, while Gulf of Mexico activity remained unchanged at 13.

In Canada, one oil-directed rig and one natural gas-directed rig were added during the week, upping the Canadian tally to 56, versus 139 a year ago.

Canada Rig Count

The combined North American rig count ended the week at 310, versus 1,055 at this time last year.

Among major plays, the Permian Basin led the way during the week, adding 10 rigs to up its total to 127. The Marcellus Shale added one rig week/week to end with 26 active rigs. On the other side of the ledger, the Eagle Ford Shale saw two rigs pack up during the week, while the Utica Shale and Williston Basin each dropped one from their respective totals.

Among states, Texas posted a net increase of eight rigs, while New Mexico added two. West Virginia picked up three rigs week/week, while Louisiana added one.

Pennsylvania saw a net decrease of two rigs during the week, while North Dakota and Ohio each saw one rig exit the patch.

Oil and natural gas production from seven key U.S. onshore plays is set to decline in September, continuing a downtrend that began earlier this year, according to the latest Drilling Productivity Report (DPR) published by the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

While the majority of plays are expected to show declines, the Bakken Shale and the Permian are projected to grow output from August to September, according to EIA. The agency expects Bakken oil production to increase by 7,000 b/d, with gas production rising by 15 MMcf/d; Permian oil output is expected to also grow 7,000 b/d, with gas output set to rise 25 MMcf/d.

Primarily driven by the Permian, total drilled uncompleted (DUC) wells in the seven regions increased from June to July, up to 7,685 from 7,655, EIA said. The Permian added 40 DUCs to its total to reach 3,520 in July. The Bakken added six DUCs, rising to 902, while the Haynesville and Denver Julesburg-Niobrara each added one DUC month/month.