In its monthly release, oilfield services provider, Baker Hughes Inc.'s (BHI - Analyst Report) worldwide Rotary Rig Count for Mar 2013 fell to 3,488, down 191 from 3,679 in Feb 2013 and 175 from 3,663 in Mar 2012. The lower count is due to the spring breakup in the North American segment where thawing roads and soft fields made it difficult for rig operators to move their equipment.
The Baker Hughes Rotary Rig Counts give 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 Tesco Corporation (TESO - Snapshot Report) , Patterson-UTI Energy Inc. (PTEN - Analyst Report) and Atwood Oceanics, Inc. (ATW - 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 1,268 in Mar 2013. This was down 7 from 1,275 counted in Feb 2013, and up 76 from 1,192 counted in Mar 2012. Rigs engaged in land operations remained flat with the Feb 2013 count at 952 and increased by 63 from the Mar 2012 count. The international offshore rig count for Mar 2013 was 316, down 7 from 323 counted in Feb 2013 and up 13 from 303 counted in Mar 2012.
North America: North American rigs engaged in exploration and production totaled 2,220 in Mar 2013. This was down 184 from 2,404 counted in Feb 2013, and down 251 from 2,471 counted in Mar 2012. Rigs engaged in land operations fell by 182 to 2,167 versus 2,349 in Feb 2013 and decreased by 261 versus 2,428 in Mar 2012. The North American offshore rig count for Mar 2013 was 53, down by 2 from 55 counted in Feb 2013 and up 10 from 43 counted in Mar 2012.
The average U.S. rig count for Mar 2013 was 1,756, down 223 from 1,979 counted a year earlier. The monthly average Canadian rig count was 464, down 28 from 492 counted in Mar 2012.
As of now, Tesco and Patterson-UTI Energy holds Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) and Zacks Rank #2 (Buy), respectively 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 Atwood Oceanics currently holds Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) stocks, implying that these are expected to perform in line with the broader U.S. equity market over the next one to three months.