From Staff Reports

The number of U.S rigs drilling for oil continued to plummet in the past week as the price of oil gained on hopes that U.S.-China trade tensions would ease.

In its weekly report Friday, Baker Hughes said an even dozen units were shut down, leaving 742 rigs at work — the fewest standing since early January 2018.

For the month of August, the oil rig count dropped by 34, its biggest decline since March 2019. That put the count down for the ninth month in a row.

The number of gas rigs was flat on 162, making the combined count 904. A year ago, 1,048 rigs were working.

With a five-rig loss, Texas was the week’s big loser, but easily remains the nation’s most active state with 441 rigs at work. New Mexico lost one, to 108. Oklahoma lost a pair, to 80. Louisiana lost one, to 60.

By major play, the West Texas-New Mexico Permian Basin lost five rigs, making its total 429. The East Texas-Louisiana Haynesville Shale lost one, to 49. The Panhandle’s Granite Wash also lost one, leaving three rigs standing.

Reflecting that state’s losses, Oklahoma’s Ardmore Woodford lost one rig and the DJ Niobrara lost a pair. The Arkoma Woodford added one.

Despite the string of declines, oil production has continued to increase. The Energy Information Administration said earlier this week that U.S. output rose to a record high of 12.5 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude futures were trading around $55 per barrel Friday ahead of a hurricane near the Florida coast that could dampen demand, but were set for a big weekly gain as the U.S.-China trade conflict eased.

Though U.S. crude was down about 4 percent at midday Friday, it remained on track for a weekly gain of about $1.