U.S. contract driller Patterson-UTI Energy Inc. expects to see a “substantial” boost to the oil and gas rig count in June and July, CEO Andy Hendricks said Thursday.

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Hendricks, during a conference call to discuss first quarter performance and the outlook, said confidence is improving that 2021 will be a solid year for business in the Lower 48.

“Crude oil prices trading in a tight band around $60 have been supportive of increasing activity,” he told investors. “Looking forward, based on conversations with customers, we now have greater confidence in further Improvement in drilling and completion activity. 

“We expect our rig count will reach approximately 80 rigs over the next three months, with most of that growth coming late in the second quarter and early in the...