The U.S. natural gas rig count climbed two units to 109 for the week ended Friday (Jan. 14), while big gains in Texas sent the overall domestic drilling tally higher by double digits, according to updated figures published by Baker Hughes Co. (BKR).

Including a net gain of 11 oil-directed rigs, the combined domestic rig count finished at 601 active rigs as of Friday, versus 373 rigs running in the year-earlier period, according to the BKR numbers, which are partly based on data from Enverus. 

Eleven rigs were added on land, along with two in the Gulf of Mexico. Nine horizontal rigs were added week/week, alongside two directional rigs and two vertical units.

The Canadian rig count jumped 50 units for the period to 191 in the latest BKR count, including 43 oil-directed rigs and seven natural gas-directed. The combined Canadian count ended the period 30 units higher year/year.

Broken down by major producing region, the Eagle Ford Shale led with a net increase of six rigs for the week, bringing its tally to 50, up from 28 in the year-earlier period. The Haynesville Shale picked up three rigs, while two were added in the Marcellus Shale. The Permian Basin added one rig during the week to bring its total to 293, versus 189 a year ago.

Counting by state, Texas saw its total jump seven units to 281, while Louisiana added three rigs to raise its count to 55. Alaska, Pennsylvania and West Virginia each saw net increases of one rig for the period, according to the BKR data.

The rising rig numbers have correlated with signs of activity growth for the oilfield services sector.

The U.S. OFS and equipment sector added an estimated 7,450 jobs in December, the Houston-based Energy Workforce & Technology Council said recently.

“As oil demand has pushed higher, it’s heartening to see continued job growth in the sector,” said Council CEO, Leslie Buyer. “The sector has recovered more than half of the jobs lost to the pandemic, and we expect continued growth in 2022.”

The 1.1% jobs gain for December represents a month/month rebound. For November, the Council reported a 0.1%, or 815-job, decline in OFS employment. The 17,000-plus OFS employment increase reported for August through October dwarfed the November dip, however.