U.S. Energy Rigs Gain 17 to 1,809, Baker Hughes Reports

Rigs targeting oil and natural gas in the U.S. increased by 17 this week to 1,809, according to Baker Hughes Inc. (BHI)

Oil rigs rose by 18 to 1,461, the highest level since Baker Hughes separated the oil and gas rig counts in 1987, data posted on the company’s website show. The gas count declined by one to 344, the Houston-based field services company said. Miscellaneous rigs were unchanged at four.

Hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling have unlocked U.S. shale deposits of oil from North Dakota to Texas, boosting domestic crude output last year by the most since 1940 and cutting the nation’s reliance on foreign imports. Production will rise 900,000 more barrels a day this year as drilling efficiency improves in shale plays such as Texas’s Permian basin, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Exploration in the Permian Basin “has been shifting from shallow, vertical drilling to more complex programs,” Vincent Piazza, a Bloomberg Industries analyst in Skillman, New Jersey, said in a research note March 11. “The new programs target deeper zones and deploy horizontal drilling techniques with unique well completion and stimulation methods.”

New oil output per rig in North Dakota’s Bakken formation will rise to a record 492 barrels a day in April, the EIA, the Energy Department’s statistical arm, said in a report March 10. Output per rig in the Permian is expected to climb to 109 barrels a day, a 17-month high.

Rising Productivity

“The productivity of oil and natural gas wells is steadily increasing in many basins across the United States because of the increasing precision and efficiency of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing,” the agency said.

Total U.S. oil output rose 105,000 barrels a day, or 1.3 percent, in the week ended March 7 to 8.18 million, EIA data show. Crude stockpiles increased 6.18 million barrels, or 1.7 percent, to 370 million.

West Texas Intermediate crude for April delivery rose 46 cents, or 0.5 percent, to $98.66 a barrel at 1:08 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange, up 6.1 percent in the past year.

U.S. gas stockpiles dropped 195 billion cubic feet last week to 1.001 trillion, EIA data show. Supplies were a record 46.2 percent below the five-year average and 48.9 percent below year-earlier levels.

Natural gas for April delivery increased 3.4 cents, or 0.8 percent, to $4.417 per million British thermal units on the Nymex and has risen 16 percent in the past year.

To contact the reporters on this story: Lynn Doan in San Francisco at ldoan6@bloomberg.net; Richard Stubbe in Houston at rstubbe1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Dan Stets at dstets@bloomberg.net Richard Stubbe, David Marino

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