Amid a slowdown in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM), the U.S. natural gas rig count fell one unit to 158 for the week ended Friday (Oct. 7), according to the latest figures from oilfield services provider Baker Hughes Co. (BKR).

Declines in the United States also included two oil-directed rigs, with the combined U.S. count down three rigs to 762. 

One rig was added on land, while a three-rig decline in the GOM and a one-rig decline in inland waters sent the overall domestic tally lower week/week. Five directional units exited the patch domestically, partially offset by a two-rig increase in horizontal drilling.

The 762 active U.S. rigs as of Friday compares with 533 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, climbed two units to 215 for the period, with a four-rig increase in oil-directed drilling partially offset by a decline of two natural gas-directed rigs. Canada ended the week with 48 more rigs versus the year-ago period.

Looking at changes by major drilling region, the Permian Basin and the Marcellus Shale each added a rig week/week, while one rig exited in the Haynesville Shale, according to the BKR data.

In the state-by-state breakdown, Louisiana saw four rigs exit the patch week/week. Oklahoma and West Virginia each added one rig for the period, while Wyoming dropped a rig from its total, the BKR data show.

Lower 48 energy producers could respond to a massive OPEC-plus supply cut that is expected to spur a surge in oil prices by bolstering crude output in the final months of 2022, analysts said Thursday.

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U.S. exploration and production (E&P) companies could increase output to 12.7 million b/d by the end of the year, Rystad Energy said. That would mark a 700,000 b/d jump from September levels and bring production within striking distance of the record 13.1 million b/d level reached in March 2020, before the pandemic.

“The question is if, and how fast, production can be accelerated,” said Rystad’s Jorge Leon, senior vice president. He expects private producers that are unencumbered by investors’ calls for public E&Ps to conserve capital will lead the charge and make the forecasted increase plausible.

OPEC-plus on Wednesday announced it would slash its members’ collective crude production by 2 million b/d beginning in November. Citing global recessionary headwinds and potential threats to demand, it plans to maintain the reduced output through 2023.