US Oil Rig Count Tops Gas For First Time Since 1995 - BHI
Published: Apr 21, 2011
By Matt Day
Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
NEW YORK (Dow Jones)--There were more drilling rigs seeking crude oil than natural gas in the U.S. this week for the first time since 1995, Baker Hughes Inc. (BHI) said, as companies look to take advantage of soaring oil prices.
There were 913 rigs drilling for oil during the week ended Thursday, the oilfield-services provider said, up 33 from the previous week and the highest in Baker Hughes data since 1987. The increase in oil rigs was the largest in any week since 1990.
Oil and natural-gas producers have ramped up their hunt for oil as prices for the commodity rose to two-and-a-half year highs above $100 a barrel this year. Unconventional oil-bearing rock formations, including the Bakken in North Dakota and the Eagle Ford in south Texas, have seen increased drilling activity.
Meanwhile, natural-gas prices remain pressured by near-record production and have been restrained near $4 a million British thermal units, giving companies less incentive to target natural-gas fields. The natural-gas rig count fell by seven this week, to 878.
Analysts have kept a close watch on the natural-gas rig count for signs that producers are pulling back to limit supply growth. The current pace of drilling is still widely seen leading to further production gains.
The number of horizontal rigs, the type typically used to access the natural gas and oil held in shale rock formations, rose by 17 to 1,020. About two-thirds of horizontal rigs are seen drilling for natural gas.
Baker Hughes released its rig data a day early because of the Good Friday holiday.
-By Matt Day, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-4986; firstname.lastname@example.org