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Energy Rigs in U.S. Rose for Fifth Week, Baker Hughes Reports

Energy rigs in the U.S. rose six to 1,782, the highest level this year, according to Baker Hughes Inc. (BHI) The count gained for the fifth week in a row.

Oil rigs declined by 13 to 1,388, the Houston-based field services company said on its website. Gas rigs increased by 19 to 388.

Rigs are gaining with domestic crude output reaching the highest since 1990 and U.S. oil reserves the most in two decades as producers use hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling to reach shale deposits. The resurgence in energy production helped the U.S. meet 87 percent of its energy needs in the first four months of 2013, on pace to be the highest annual rate since 1985.

ConocoPhillips (COP) produced 491,000 barrels a day of oil equivalent in the second quarter in the continental U.S., up 50,000 from a year earlier, “and our high level of drilling activity continues, Jeff W. Sheets, the Houston-based company’s chief financial officer, said in a conference call with investors yesterday.

Proved oil reserves in the U.S. increased for the third straight year in 2011, rising by 15 percent to 29 billion barrels, the highest since 1985, the Energy Information Administration, the Energy Department’s statistical arm, said yesterday. Tight oil plays accounted for 3.6 billion barrels, or 13 percent, of the total. Natural gas reserves rose by almost 10 percent to a record 348.8 trillion cubic feet.

Record Increases

‘‘Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing in shale and other tight rock formations continued to increase oil and natural gas reserves,” Adam Sieminski, EIA’s administrator, said in a statement yesterday. “Higher oil prices helped drive record increases in crude oil reserves, while natural gas reserves grew strongly despite slightly lower natural gas prices in 2011.”

Natural gas for September delivery fell 3.3 cents to $3.354 per million British thermal units at 1:10 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange, up 15 percent from a year ago.

U.S. gas stockpiles gained 59 billion cubic feet last week to 2.845 trillion, bigger than the five-year seasonal average increase of 47 billion, the EIA said yesterday. Supplies were 11.5 percent below year-earlier levels.

“A declining gas production rate coupled with a $4 per mcf gas price may boost demand for drilling rigs,” Mehdi Menouar, a Bloomberg Industries energy analyst in Princeton, New Jersey, said July 31.

U.S. oil output slipped 13,000 barrels a day to 7.54 million after rising to the highest level a since December 1990 a week earlier. Stockpiles gained for the first time in five weeks, adding 431,000 barrels to 364.6 million.

Crude for September delivery dropped $1.07, or 1 percent, to $106.82 a barrel today on the Nymex, up 23 percent in the past year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lynn Doan in San Francisco at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Stets at

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