BHI: US oil rigs jump 17 units in biggest rise since July

The overall US drilling rig count sat unchanged at 707 during the week ended Dec. 18. But a 17-unit jump in oil-directed rigs—which was offset by a 17-unit drop in gas-directed rigs—marked their biggest weekly increase since July, according to Baker Hughes Inc. data.

Oil-directed rigs now total 541, still 995 fewer year-over-year. Down 21 units a week ago, they hit their lowest point since Apr. 30, 2010 (OGJ Online, Dec. 11, 2015). Gas-directed rigs now total 168.

The overall count remains at its lowest level since Sept. 17, 1999, and is down 1,166 year-over-year.

Land-based units were unchanged at 684, ending their 16-week slide. They’re now down 1,121 year-over-year. Rigs engaged in horizontal drilling gained 5 to 559, still down 797 year-over-year. Directional drilling rigs edged down a unit to 63.

Offshore rigs edged up a unit to 21, representing the 1 and only unit in Alabama waters to come online. Rigs drilling in inland waters halved to 1.

Royal Dutch Shell PLC this week elected to cancel its contract with Noble Corp. PLC for the Noble Discoverer drillship, which will be stacked (OGJ Online, Dec. 18, 2015). Discoverer was used by Shell in its Chukchi Sea exploration drilling program in the US Arctic.

The Noble Sam Croft and Noble Tom Madden rigs remain under contract into July 2017 and November 2017, respectively, with Freeport-McMoRan Oil & Gas, which recently reported plans to reduce its number of rigs operating in the Gulf of Mexico. Noble says it’s in discussions with Freeport-McMoRan on possible restructuring of the contracts.

In Canada, its rig count fell 12 units to 162, down 229 year-over-year. Gas-directed rigs dropped 10 units to 91, while oil-directed rigs lost 2 units to 71.

Texas, Pennsylvania lead losses

Texas and Pennsylvania led the major oil- and gas-producing states each with a 4-unit loss to 320 and 26, respectively.

Texas, down 548 year-over-year, remains at its lowest total since June 12, 2009. During the week, however, the Permian increased 2 units to 206, and the Eagle Ford and Barnett each rose 1 unit to 77 and 8, respectively.

The US Geological Survey reported this week that the Barnett could contain 53 tcf of gas, doubling previous estimates (OGJ Online, Dec. 17, 2015).

Pennsylvania, down more than half year-over-year, is at its lowest point since Mar. 13, 2009. The Marcellus edged down a unit this week to 41, down by exactly half year-over-year.

Louisiana lost 2 units to 58, again its lowest total since BHI began tracking states’ rig counts in January 2000. The Haynesville edged down a unit to 26.

Wyoming edge down a unit to 20. Unchanged from a week ago were North Dakota at 58, Colorado at 25, Ohio at 15, California at 9, Arkansas at 3, and Utah at 2. But future losses are in store for California.

California Resources Corp. said this week that it’s releasing both of its contracted drilling rigs in the San Joaquin basin as the company heads into 2016, while a rig will be maintained on an intermittent basis in the Los Angeles basin. Despite the releases, the company intends to maintain a workover fleet of 30 units.

Oklahoma, New Mexico, Alaska, and Kansas each edged up a unit to respective totals of 86, 37, 12, and 11. The Cana Woodford edged up a unit to 38. West Virginia led all states by climbing 3 units to 16.

Contact Matt Zborowski at

Did You Like this Article? Get All the Energy Industry News Delivered to Your Inbox

Subscribe to an email newsletter today at no cost and receive the latest news and information.

 Subscribe Now


Making DDoS Mitigation Part of Your Incident Response Plan: Critical Steps and Best Practices

Like a new virulent strain of flu, the impact of a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack is...

The Multi-Tax Challenge of Managing Excise Tax and Sales Tax

To be able to accurately calculate multiple tax types, companies must be prepared to continually ...

Operational Analytics in the Power Industry

Cloud computing, smart grids, and other technologies are changing transmission and distribution. ...

Maximizing Operational Excellence

In a recent survey conducted by PennEnergy Research, 70% of surveyed energy industry professional...