From Staff Reports

The number of U.S. rigs drilling for oil and natural gas fell in the past week to the lowest level in more than two years, continuing a string of declines that so far has not dampened record production.

In its weekly report Friday, Baker Hughes said the total combined count was down a dozen to 886, the fewest at work since May 2017. That’s down 169 from a year ago.

The week ended with 733 oil rigs at work, down five from a week ago and 134 fewer than a year ago. Gas drillers shut down seven rigs, leaving 153 at work. That’s down 33 from a year ago.

Texas by far led the declines, with producers shutting down eight rigs. That left 430 at work, down from 525 a year ago. Louisiana lost two, to 58. Oklahoma added one, to 76. New Mexico was flat on 108.

By major basin, the West Texas-New Mexico Permian Basin reflected the Texas decline with drillers shutting down eight rigs. That left 419 at work in the nation’s busiest play.

The East Texas-Louisiana Haynesville Shale added one, to an even 50.

Oklahoma’s Cana Woodford lost three, to 39, and the state’s DJ Niobrara lost one, to 22.

The South Texas Eagle Ford lost one, to 66.

Despite the steady string of rig count declines, weekly oil production remains near an all-time high. According to the latest government data, production has grown from 11.7 million barrels per day at the start of 2019 to 12.4 million barrels per day in the week ending Sept. 6.

That, along with slowing international economic activity tied to trade wars and other issues, has weakened demand for oil and is keeping prices stuck at less than $60 per barrel.

U.S. crude was down slightly Friday, to just less than $55 per barrel. It was heading for a weekly decline.

Brent crude, the international benchmark, was also lower Friday, at just more than $60 per barrel. That’s also down for the week.