Latshaw Drilling Rig

Pumpjacks operate in April near a Diamondback oil and gas operation in Midland County.

From Staff Reports

The number of U.S. rigs drilling for oil increased by four in the past week, while the number seeking natural gas slipped by four.

In its weekly report Friday, Baker Hughes said that pushed the number of oil-directed rigs to 793 and the number seeking gas to 173, leaving the combined total unchanged at 967. That’s down 80 from the 1,047 oil and gas rigs at work in the same week a year ago.

Rig counts have begun to increase as oil prices have gained about 12 percent over the past couple of weeks.

It was the second-straight weekly increase in the oil rig count, which had eked out a one-rig gain a week earlier.

Texas gained one, to 464, while Louisiana and Oklahoma both saw two-rig gains, pushing their totals to 72 and 102, respectively.

New Mexico was down one, to 99.

By major basin, the week’s biggest gain was a four-rig increase in Oklahoma’s Cana Woodford. A two-rig increase in the West Texas-New Mexico Permian Basin pushed the total in the nation’s most active play to 441.

South Texas’ Eagle Ford lost two, to 71. Another two were shut down in the Panhandle’s Granite Wash, leaving four at work.

The East Texas-Louisiana Haynesville Shale was flat on 53 rigs at work.

For the month, drillers cut seven rigs, the seventh consecutive monthly decline. That marks the most monthly declines in a row since May 2016, when the rig count fell for a record nine months.

For the quarter, drillers cut 23 active rigs after cutting 69 rigs in the first quarter.

The rig count, an early indicator of future output, declined as independent exploration and production companies cut spending on new drilling as they focus more on earnings growth instead of increased output.

Despite fewer rigs at work, U.S. crude oil output in April rose to a fresh monthly record, surpassing 12 million barrels per day, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said in a monthly report Friday. At nearly 1.2 million barrels more per day year over year, increased domestic production offsets cuts agreed to by OPEC.

Oil prices were slipping Friday as traders eyed a scheduled meeting today between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit, and next week’s OPEC meeting.