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In its monthly release, oilfield services provider, Baker Hughes Inc.'s (BHI - Analyst Report) worldwide Rotary Rig Count for Feb 2014 was 3,736, up 138 from 3,598 in Jan 2014, and up 57 from 3,679 in Feb 2013.    

The Baker Hughes Rotary Rig Counts gives the number of drilling rigs actively exploring for or developing oil or natural gas in the U.S., Canada and international markets. The Baker Hughes’ rotary rig counts, issued since 1944, acts as an important yardstick for drilling contractors like Helmerich & Payne, Inc. (HP - Analyst Report), Patterson-UTI Energy Inc. (PTEN - Analyst Report) and Pioneer Energy Services Corp. (PES - Snapshot Report) in gauging the overall business environment of the oil and gas industry. Baker Hughes initiated the monthly international rig count in 1975.    

Analysis of Monthly Data

International: Internationally, rigs engaged in exploration and production totaled 1,341 in Feb 2014. This was up 16 from 1,325 counted in Jan 2014, and up 66 from 1,275 counted in Feb 2013. The international offshore rig count for Feb 2014 was 318, up 16 from the 302 counted in Jan 2014, and down 5 from the 323 counted in Feb 2013.

North America: North American rigs engaged in exploration and production totaled 2,395 in Feb 2014. This was up 122 from 2,273 counted in Jan 2014, and down 9 from 2,404 counted in Feb 2013. Rigs engaged in land operations rose by 125 to 2,339 from 2,214 in Jan 2014 and decreased by 10 from 2,349 in Feb 2013. The North American offshore rig count for Feb 2014 was 56, down by 3 from 59 counted in Jan 2014 and up 1 from 55 counted in Feb 2013.

The average U.S. rig count for Feb 2014 was 1,769, unchanged from the count in Jan 2014, and up 7 from the 1,762 counted in Feb 2013. The average Canadian rig count for Feb 2014 was 626, up 122 from the 504 counted in Jan 2014, and down 16 from the 642 counted in Feb 2013.

Zacks Rank

As of now, both Patterson-UTI Energy and Helmerich & Payne hold Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), implying that these are expected to perform above the broader U.S. equity market over the next one to three months. On the other hand, both Baker Hughes and Pioneer Energy Services currently hold a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold), implying that these are expected to perform in line with the broader U.S. equity market over the same time frame.

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