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Oil Drillers Keep Removing Rigs From Permian & Cana Woodford

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In its weekly release, Baker Hughes Company BKR reported a decline in the number of drilling rigs in the United States. 

More on the Rig Count

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.

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, Schlumberger Limited SLB, Diamond Offshore Drilling, Inc DO and Transocean Ltd. RIG.


Total US Rig Count Decreases: Rigs engaged in the exploration and production of oil and natural gas in the United States totaled 796 in the week through Jan 3, lower than the prior-week’s count of 805. The current national rig count is also below the prior year’s 1075.

The number of onshore rigs, in the week ending Jan 3, totaled 773 compared with the previous week’s 781. Moreover, the tally of rigs operating offshore plays through the week till Jan 3 was 22, lower than the prior-week count of 23. However, in inland waters, the count was one, in line with the week-ago tally.

US Removes 7 Oil Rigs: Oil rig count was 670 versus 677 in the week ended Dec 27. Thus, drillers in the domestic plays removed rigs for two weeks in a row. The current total, far from the peak of 1,609 attained in October 2014, is also below the year-ago 877.

Natural Gas Rig Count Declines in US: Natural gas rig count of 123 was lower than the prior-week tally of 125. Moreover, the count of rigs exploring the commodity lagged the prior-year week’s 198. Per the latest report, the number of natural gas-directed rigs was 92.3%, below the all-time high of 1,606 recorded in 2008.

Rig Count by Type: The number of vertical drilling rigs totaled 44 units versus the prior-week 49. Moreover, 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) was 752 compared with the prior-week level of 756.

Gulf of Mexico (GoM) Rig Count Declines: GoM rig count was 22 units, of which 21 were oil-directed. The count was lower than the prior-week tally of 23.

Rig Count in Major Basins

From Permian and Cana Woodford, drillers removed two and one oil rigs, respectively, in the week through Jan 3. Notably, oil drillers in the most prolific basin removed rigs in nine of the past 11 weeks. In Cana Woodford, the count of rigs fell for three straight weeks.


Investors should know that domestic drillers may continue to remove rigs since explorers have a conservative capital budget in place and have decided to curb spending on drilling new wells.

Despite the bearish landscape, it would be wise for investors to keep an eye on drillers in the Permian, where more crude is being produced with lesser rigs. Two Permian drillers that investors should keep an eye on are Diamondback Energy, Inc. (FANG - Free Report) and Pioneer Natural Resources Company PXD. Both the stocks carry a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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