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Permian Oil Drilling Rig Count Up in 3 of Prior 4 Weeks

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In its weekly release, Baker Hughes Company (BKR - Free Report) stated that the U.S. rig count was lower than the prior-week tally. The rotary rig count, issued by BKR, is usually published in major newspapers and trade publications.

Baker Hughes’ data, issued at the end of every week since 1944, helps energy service providers gauge the overall business environment of the oil and gas industry. The number of active rigs and its comparison with the prior-week figure indicates the demand trajectory for Baker Hughes’ oilfield services from exploration and production companies.


Total U.S. Rig Count Declines: The count of rigs engaged in the exploration and production of oil and natural gas in the United States was 772 in the week ended Jan 6. The figure is lower than the prior week’s count. The tally increased in five of the prior 10 weeks. The current national rig count is, however, higher than the year-ago level of 588.

The onshore rigs in the week ended Jan 6 totaled 754, lower than the prior week's count of 762. In offshore resources, 16 rigs were operating, higher than the prior week’s count of 15.

U.S. Oil Rig Count Falls: The oil rig count was 618 in the week ended Jan 6, lower than the prior-week figure of 621. The current number of oil rigs — far from the peak of 1,609 attained in October 2014 — is, however, up from the year-ago figure of 481.

U.S. Natural Gas Rig Count Decreases: Natural gas rig count of 152 is lower than the prior-week figure of 156. The count of rigs exploring the commodity is higher than the prior-year week’s tally of 107. Per the latest report, the number of natural gas-directed rigs is 90.5% lower than the all-time high of 1,606 recorded in 2008.

Rig Count by Type: The number of vertical drilling rigs totaled 26 units, lower than the prior-week count of 27. The 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 746 is lower than the prior-week level of 752.

Gulf of Mexico (GoM) Rig Count Rises: GoM rig count was 16 units, all oil-directed. The count was higher than the prior-week number of 15.

Rig Count in the Most Prolific Basin

Permian — the most prolific basin in the United States — recorded a weekly oil rig tally of 350, flat with the prior week's count. The tally increased in three of the previous four weeks.


The West Texas Intermediate crude price is trading at more than the $70-per-barrel mark, which is still highly favorable for exploration and production activities. Solid oil prices will likely pave the way for further rig additions despite a slowdown in drilling activities, as upstream players mainly focus on stockholder returns rather than boosting output.

Investors may keep a close eye on energy stocks like EOG Resources (EOG - Free Report) and Devon Energy Corporation (DVN - Free Report) , as these companies are expected to benefit from the current healthy oil price scenario.

EOG Resources, currently carrying a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold), is a leading oil and natural gas exploration and production company. It is well-placed to capitalize on the promising business scenario. It has an estimated 11,500 net undrilled premium locations, resulting in a brightened production outlook. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

EOG Resources is strongly committed to returning capital to shareholders. Since it transitioned to premium drilling, the company has returned $10.4 billion in cash to stockholders. With the employment of premium drilling, EOG can reduce its cash operating costs per barrel of oil equivalent, thereby aiding its bottom line.

Devon Energy is a well-known upstream energy firm with a strong multi-basin portfolio. Delaware basin is among the basins that contribute significant oil equivalent production to DVN.

The Zacks Rank #3 firm, Devon Energy, has a prolific multi-decade inventory, suggesting a solid production outlook.

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