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US Oil Rig Tally Declines the Most Since April: Here's Why

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In its weekly release, Baker Hughes Company reported a drop in the U.S. rig count.

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 - Free Report) , Schlumberger Limited (SLB - Free Report) , Diamond Offshore Drilling, Inc (DO - Free Report) and Transocean Ltd. (RIG - Free Report) .


Total U.S. Rig Count Decreases: Rigs engaged in exploration and production of oil and natural gas in the United States totaled 772 in the week through Mar 20, lower than the prior-week count of 792. The current national rig count is also below the prior year’s 1016.

The number of onshore rigs in the week ended Mar 20 totaled 751 versus the previous week’s 771. However, the tally of rigs operating offshore plays through the week till Mar 20 was 19, in line with the prior-week count. In the inland waters, the rig count was two, on par with the prior week.

U.S. Drillers Remove 19 Oil Rigs: Oil rig count during the said period was 664, down from 683 in the week ended Mar 13. This marks the deepest weekly cut recorded since April 2019. Importantly, since crude prices are in the bearish territory, explorers are cutting capital budget considerably. Resultantly, the weekly tally of oil rigs touched the lowest mark since the beginning of this year. Notably, a few upstream energy players in North America that recently decided to lower capital budget for 2020 include Occidental Petroleum Corporation (OXY - Free Report) , Diamondback Energy, Inc. (FANG - Free Report) and Marathon Oil Corporation (MRO - Free Report) . Marathon Oil currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Investors should note that the current tally of oil rigs is far from the peak of 1,609 attained in October 2014 and also below the year-ago level of 824.  

U.S. Natural Gas Rig Count Declines: Natural gas rig count of 106 is lower than the prior-week figure of 107. Moreover, the count of rigs exploring the commodity is lower than the prior-year week’s 192. Per the latest report, the number of natural gas-directed rigs is 93.4% below the all-time high of 1,606 recorded in 2008.

Rig Count by Type: The number of vertical drilling rigs totaled 27 units, lower than the prior-week count of 31. 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) of 745 was lower than the prior-week level of 761.

Gulf of Mexico (GoM) Rig Count In Line: The GoM rig count came in at 19 units, of which 18 were oil-directed. The count was in line with the prior-week tally.

Rig Count in Major Basin & Outlook

Permian — the most prolific basin in the United States — has seen a decline in the oil rig count by 13 in the week ended Mar 20. Importantly, the count of oil rigs in Permian registered a decrease, following five consecutive weeks of increase.

Importantly, domestic drillers may continue to lower rigs in the oil patches, since global energy demand has declined drastically owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

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