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American Oil & Gas Drillers Add Rigs for 12 Successive Weeks

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In its weekly release, Baker Hughes Company (BKR - Free Report) reported an increase in U.S. rig count.

More on Rig Count

Baker Hughes’ data, which is issued at the end of every week since 1944, helps energy service providers gauge the overall business environment of the oil and gas industry.

A change in the Houston-based oilfield service player’s rotary rig count affects demand for energy services like drilling, completion and production, provided by the likes of Halliburton Company (HAL - Free Report) , Schlumberger Limited (SLB - Free Report) , along with Transocean Ltd. (RIG - Free Report) .

Details

Total U.S. Rig Count Increases: The count of rigs engaged in exploration and production of oil and natural gas in the United States was 397 for the week through Feb 12 versus the prior-week figure of 392. Thus, the tally has increased for 12 successive weeks, indicating that oil and gas drillers are gradually returning to domestic shale plays with an improvement in the commodity pricing scenario. Importantly, the 12-week of rising rig tally is the longest since June 2017. However, the current national rig count is below the year-ago level of 790.

The number of onshore rigs for the week ended Feb 12 totaled 379 compared with the prior-week count of 375. There was one rig operating in inland waters, same as the prior-week tally. Moreover, in offshore resources, 17 rigs were operating, higher than the prior-week count of 16.

US Adds 7 Oil Rigs: Oil rig count was 306 for the week through Feb 12 compared with 299 in the week ended Feb 5. Investors should also note that the current tally of oil rigs — far from the peak of 1,609 attained in October 2014 — is, however, below the year-ago figure of 678.

Natural Gas Rig Count Declines in US: Natural gas rig count of 90 was lower than the prior-week count of 92. Moreover, the count of rigs exploring the commodity was below the prior-year week’s 110. Per the latest report, the number of natural gas-directed rigs is almost 94.4% below the all-time high of 1,606 recorded in 2008.

Rig Count by Type: The number of vertical drilling rigs totaled 23 units versus the prior-week count of 20. Moreover, horizontal/directional rig count (encompassing new drilling technology with the ability to drill and extract gas from dense rock formations, also known as shale formations) of 374 compared favorably with the prior-week level of 372.

Gulf of Mexico (GoM) Rig Count Increases: GoM rig count was 17 units, of which all were oil-directed. The count was higher than the prior-week tally of 16.

Rig Count in Prolific Basins

Permian — the most prolific basin in the United States — recorded a weekly oil rig tally of 203 versus the prior-week count of 198. In the Eagle Ford shale play, the weekly tally for oil drilling rigs has increased to 28 from the prior-week count of 26.

Outlook

The price of West Texas Intermediate crude, which is trading above $60 per barrel (close to pre-pandemic levels), has improved significantly since April 2020, when oil was in the negative territory. The momentum is likely to continue since the coronavirus vaccine rollout will possibly help the economy to recover strongly this year, thereby aiding fuel demand. Thus, oil and gas drillers are likely to continue adding rigs to shale plays, since the pricing environment is gradually improving.

Meanwhile, investors may keep an eye on two energy stocks that are expected to benefit if the oil price rally sustains — Devon Energy Corporation (DVN - Free Report) and Diamondback Energy Inc. (FANG - Free Report) . While Devon Energy carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold), Diamondback has a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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