Energy Rigs in U.S. Little Changed at 1,768, Baker Hughes Says

Rigs targeting oil and natural gas in the U.S. rose by one this week to 1,768, according to Baker Hughes Inc. (BHI)

Oil rigs fell by four to 1,361, data posted on the company’s website show. The gas count rose seven to 401, the Houston-based field services company said.

The U.S. rig count has fallen by 96 rigs compared to the same time last year even as U.S. production and oil prices have surged, as drilling efficiency has increased well yields in shale basins like the Bakken. The number of directional wells, which enable drilling at multiple angles, has risen to 248 from 207 a year ago. The gain in oil output helped the U.S. meet 87 percent of its energy needs in the first five months of 2013, on pace to be the highest annual rate since 1986, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Regulatory permits for onshore drilling are rising, according to Barclays Plc. (BARC) James C. West, an oil-services analyst for the New York investment bank, said those permits reached their highest level this year in August, up 14 percent from July to 5,231 issued in 30 states the research team monitors. An increase in permits tends to precede an increase in well drilling by two months, West said in a Sept. 11 research note.

West Texas Intermediate crude for October delivery fell 73 cents to $107.87 a barrel at 1:07 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange, up 9.7 percent in the past year.

U.S. oil output gained 124,000 barrels a day to 7.75 million in the week ended Sept. 6, the highest level since May 1989, according to the EIA, the Energy Department’s statistical arm.

Natural gas for October delivery rose 3.1 cents to $3.669 per million British thermal units on the Nymex, up 21 percent from a year ago.

U.S. gas stockpiles rose 65 billion cubic feet last week to 3.253 trillion cubic feet, the EIA said yesterday. Supplies were 5 percent below a year earlier and 1.4 percent above the five-year average.

To contact the reporter on this story: Edward Welsch in Calgary at ewelsch1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Stets at dstets@bloomberg.net

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