US Drillers Add Rigs for First Time in Three Weeks

© Alexey Zakirov / Adobe Stock
© Alexey Zakirov / Adobe Stock

U.S. energy firms this week added oil and natural gas rigs for the first time in three weeks, as the oil rig count rose by the most since February, energy services firm Baker Hughes said in its closely followed report on Friday.

The oil and gas rig count, an early indicator of future output, rose two to 618 in the week to Nov. 17.

U.S. oil rigs rose by six to 500 this week, while gas rigs fell by four to 114, their lowest since early September.

Data provider Enverus, which publishes its own rig count data, said drillers cut 13 rigs in the week ended Nov. 15, cutting the total to 690. Nevertheless, the overall count was still up about 2% in the last month but down 21% year-over-year.

U.S. oil futures CLc1were down about 6% so far this year after gaining about 7% in 2022. U.S. gas futures, meanwhile, have plunged about 35% so far this year after rising about 20% last year.

Even as lower prices prompt some producers to cut back on new drilling, oil and gas output is still on track to hit record highs in 2023 and 2024 as firms complete work on their already drilled wells.

The total number of drilled but uncompleted (DUC) oil and gas wells dropped by 92 to 4,524 in October, the lowest since December 2013, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration's (EIA) Drilling Productivity Report.

Gas production in North Dakota rose to a record 3.440 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) in September, while crude output in the nation's third-largest oil-producing state, was expected to be flat or slightly lower in October but above 1.2 million barrels per day, the state regulator said this week.

(Reuters - Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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