The U.S. natural gas rig count went unchanged at 102 for the abbreviated pre-Thanksgiving period ended Wednesday (Nov. 24), while an uptick in drilling activity in North Dakota helped lift the oil count six units higher, according to updated Baker Hughes Co. (BKR) data.


As with the total number of natural gas-directed rigs, the Gulf of Mexico tally was also unchanged for the period at 15. The six-rig expansion in the oil patch left the United States with a combined 569 active rigs as of Wednesday, up from 320 rigs running in the year-earlier period, according to the BKR figures, which are partly based on data from Enverus.

The Canadian rig count added four units — all oil-directed — to end the period at 171, up from 102 a year ago. 

Broken down by major play, the Williston Basin led with a three-rig increase, growing its total to 27, more than double the 11 rigs running there in the year-ago period. The Permian Basin, meanwhile, tacked on two rigs to reach 280, versus 161 a year earlier.

Elsewhere among plays, the Marcellus Shale added one rig overall, while the Haynesville Shale saw one rig exit for the period.

Broken down by state, North Dakota added four rigs, while Texas added two, mirroring the gains in the Williston and Permian, respectively. Pennsylvania added one rig to its total for the period, according to the BKR data.

With gasoline prices recently hovering near multi-year highs and crude production lagging demand in 2021, President Biden on Tuesday said his administration would tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) as part of a broader international move to boost supply and curb costs at the pump.

The United States is coordinating the release along with similar efforts by China, India, Japan, Republic of Korea and the UK. The Biden administration said it would release 50 million bbl in total – 32 million bbl in newly approved releases and 18 million bbl as part of an acceleration of a sale of oil that Congress had previously authorized.

“The president stands ready to take additional action, if needed, and is prepared to use his full authorities working in coordination with the rest of the world to maintain adequate supply as we exit the pandemic,” the White House said in a statement.