Baker Hughes: US Working Gas Rigs Drop By 11 In Week; Oil Rigs -4
Published: Mar 23, 2012
By David Bird
Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
NEW YORK (Dow Jones)--The number of rigs drilling for oil and natural gas in the U.S. last week fell by 16 to 1,968, according to data released Friday by Baker Hughes Inc. (BHI).
The number of working gas rigs fell by 11 in the week to 652 and was down by 228 from a year ago.
The number of working oil rigs fell by four in the week to 1,313 and was 468 higher than a year ago.
Rigs classified as miscellaneous dropped by one in the week.
Since November 2011, when natural gas futures prices on the New York Mercantile Exchange began slipping to one-year lows, the weekly count of working gas rigs has dropped by an average of 13 each week. As gas prices have touched 10-year lows recently, the year-to-year drop in working gas drilling rigs has accelerated. The current deficit to a year earlier is the biggest since Jan. 29, 2010, data from the company show. Since November, the number of working gas rigs has lagged behind the year-earlier level by an average of 140.
U.S. benchmark crude oil prices topped $100 a barrel during November 2011 for the first time six months and have averaged above that level since then. The weekly count of working oil rigs has risen by 11 on average since November and has topped the year-ago level by an average of 433 rigs.
The weekly count of working gas rigs is the lowest since May 3, 2002, Baker Hughes' data show. The weekly oil rig count is the highest on record since the company began splitting oil and gas rig counts in July 1987.
Analysts said despite the lower gas rig count, production levels haven't fallen significantly. That's because about one third of U.S. gas output comes from fields that primarily produce crude oil. In some cases, analysts said, gas that is uneconomical to produce otherwise is being extracted along with crude oil, as producers capture the highest ever U.S. crude prices for this time of year.
-By David Bird, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2141; firstname.lastname@example.org