From Staff Reports

The number of U.S. rigs drilling for oil and natural gas slipped to fewer than 900 in the past week for the first time since 2017 as activity continues to slow across the oil patch.

Oil prices gained on the news to notch daily and weekly gains.

Despite steady declines in the number of rigs at work, however, weekly oil production in the U.S. remains near an all-time high at 12.4 million barrels per day, according to government data.

In its weekly report Friday, Baker Hughes said the combined tally of oil and gas rigs at work fell by six in the past week to 898. That’s down 150 from a year ago.

The number of active oil rigs was down four, to 738, while the number seeking gas fell by two, to 160. A year ago, 186 were at work.

Texas and Oklahoma led the week’s declines.

Oklahoma, which has seen its rig count plummet by 45 percent in 12 months, lost five rigs, leaving 75 at work. A year ago, its total was 137. Texas saw three rigs shut down, leaving 438 at work. That’s down from 528 a year ago.

North Dakota was the only state to add to its rig tally. It gained three, to 54.

By major play, Oklahoma’s Cana Woodford was the week’s big loser, with three rigs shut down to leave 42 at work. The West Texas-New Mexico Permian Basin lost two, to 427. The Kansas-Oklahoma Mississippian Lime lost one.

Reflecting that state’s gains, North Dakota’s Williston added three rigs, to 54.

The decline in the rig count, along with another report issued a day earlier showing smaller domestic crude supplies, helped boost oil prices to a daily and weekly gain.

U.S. benchmark crude gained 22 cents, or 0.4 percent, to settle Friday at $56.52 a barrel in New York. That pushed it to a weekly gain of 2.6%.

Brent crude, the international benchmark, rose 59 cents, or 1%, to close at $61.54 a barrel in London. For the week, it was up 3.9%.

Oil has gained in the past week on news of heightened tensions in the Middle East, which could disrupt supplies, and optimism that the U.S. and China may come back to the negotiating table to hammer out a resolution to their yearlong trade dispute.