From Staff Reports
The pace of decline in the number of U.S. rigs drilling for oil and natural gas slowed in the past week as oil prices continued to rise and domestic inventories shrank.
In its weekly report Friday, Baker Hughes said an 11th-straight weekly decline left 318 rigs at work across the nation, down from 983 a year ago. It was a third-straight weekly record low for the closely watched indicator.
The week’s 21-rig loss was entirely in the number drilling for oil, leaving 237 standing. With no change from a week earlier, the number of gas-directed rigs was 79.
For the previous 10 weeks, the weekly average decline was 37 rigs.
Texas drillers shut down a dozen, leaving 138 at work. That’s down from 481 a year ago.
Colorado’s total decreased by two, to six; New Mexico was down three, to 63; North Dakota was down two, to 14; Pennsylvania was down one, to 22; and Wyoming lost two, leaving just a pair there.
Louisiana’s total was unchanged at 35.
Reflecting Texas’ declines, the number of rigs at work in the West Texas-New Mexico Permian Basin was down 13, to 162. A year ago, 451 were working in the nation’s busiest play. South Texas’ Eagle Ford Shale saw another pair shut down, leaving 22 at work.
The East Texas-Louisiana Haynesville Shale, now the nation’s second-busiest play, held at 32 for a third-straight week.
Domestic oil production has fallen as drillers have slowed activity. Earlier in the week, the federal Energy Information Administration’s weekly estimate showed oil production fell for a seventh-straight week, to 11.5 million barrels per day in the week ended May 15. That was down 100,000 barrels per day from the previous week. Domestic inventories also declined for a second straight week, easing concerns about storage.
The production declines, increases in demand and optimism about reopening economies have helped push oil prices up nearly threefold since late April.
Though prices were down Friday, U.S. oil was trading for about $33.15 per barrel by afternoon, on track for another weekly increase. Brent crude, the international benchmark, was trading for just less than $35, also heading for a weekly gain.