US rig count drops 7 units; global losses continue

Anchored by the idling of more oil-directed rigs, the overall US drilling rig count lost 7 units to 443 during the week ended Apr. 8, according to Baker Hughes Inc. data.

Although the loss is the second-smallest of the year thus far, the overall count continued a recent dive that has resulted in declines in 31 of the past 33 weeks (OGJ Online, Apr. 1, 2016). The current total is down 1,477 units since the overall drilling dive commenced following the week ended Dec. 5, 2014.

BHI also reported this week that the US rig count for March averaged 478 units, down 54 from the February average and down 632 compared with the March 2015 average.

Meanwhile, US crude oil production during the week ended Apr. 1 averaged 9.008 million b/d, a drop from 9.022 million b/d during the previous week, according to the latest data from the US Energy Information Administration (OGJ Online, Apr. 7, 2016).

Latest dive in US oil rigs

Since posting its first increase in 13 weeks during the week ended Mar. 18, the oil-directed count has plunged 33 units, with 8 halting operations this past week.

The new total of 354 is down 1,255 units since its peak in BHI data on Oct. 10, 2014, and its lowest point since Nov. 6, 2009. The current count remains well-above the 2008-09 downturn’s nadir of 179 touched on June 5, 2009.

Gas-directed rigs edged up a unit to 89, down 136 year-over-year.

Six of the units to go offline this week were onshore, whose count now is 414, down 537 year-over-year.

Rigs engaged in horizontal drilling lost 5 units to 341, down 1,031 since a peak in BHI data on Nov. 21, 2014, and their lowest count since Mar. 23, 2007. Directional drilling rigs gained 3 units to 52.

California’s lone working offshore rig halted operations this week, bringing the total US offshore count to 25. The count of rigs drilling in inland waters was unmoved at 4.

Texas, Permian still anchoring losses

Among the major oil- and gas-producing states, Texas led the losses with a 7-unit drop to 197, down 761 since a peak in BHI data on Aug. 29, 2008, and its lowest level since the 1990s.

The Permian led the major basins in losses with a 3-unit decrease to 142, down 426 since a recent peak on Dec. 5, 2014. The Barnett fell 2 units to 4.

The Eagle Ford, meanwhile, edged up 1 unit for the second consecutive week. The South Texas play’s total of 43 is still down 216 units since a peak on May 25, 2012.

North Dakota and the Williston each lost 2 units to 27. North Dakota is down 176 units since an all-time high during June 1-8, 2012, and at its lowest since May 5-12, 2006.

Alaska, Kansas, and California—the latter with its offshore loss—each decreased a unit to 8, 5, and 4, respectively.

New Mexico posted a modest increase for the third straight week, gaining a unit to 17. Oklahoma and Ohio each increased 2 units to 63 and 12, respectively. Oklahoma is still down 146 units compared with when it entered 2015.

The Utica exactly reflected the movement and new total of its home state. The Cana Woodford also gained 2 units, now counting 32.

Canada's slide continues  

Canada’s tally of active rigs during the week ended Apr. 8 continued to hit lows not seen in decades. Losing 6 units this week, the total of 41 is down 209 since Jan. 22.

For the second straight week, most of those losses were gas-directed rigs, which shed an additional 5 units this week to settle at 33. Oil-directed rigs decreased 3 units to 8, also their lowest level in decades.

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers this week forecast the total number of wells to be drilled in western Canada in 2016 at 3,500, a decline of 66% from the 10,400 wells drilled in 2014 (OGJ Online, Apr. 7, 2016).

This reflects a 62% dive in 2016 capital spending to $31 billion compared with the $81 billion spent in 2014, the industry group reported.

BHI reported that the average Canadian rig count for March was 88 units, down 123 from the February average and down 108 year-over-year.

Global losses

Including the US, Canada, and everywhere else, the worldwide rig count for March averaged 1,551, down 210 from the February average and down 1,006 year-over-year.

Outside of the US and Canada, Latin America suffered the biggest monthly decline in average working rigs, shedding 19 units during March to 2,018, down 133 year-over-year.

Most of the change came from a 12-unit dive in Mexico to 27, down 41 year-over-year. Brazil also took a big hit, losing 7 units to 28, down 16 year-over-year. Colombia dropped 3 units to 4, down 27 year-over-year. Argentina, meanwhile, gained 3 units to 68, still down 44 year-over-year.

Europe fell 11 units to 96, down 39 year-over-year. Poland lost 3 units to 4, a third of its yearend 2015 average.

Lithuania and Bulgaria each relinquished their only 2 working rigs; while Germany also shed 2 units, settling at 5. Offshore UK increased 2 units to 9, down 10 year-over-year; while the Netherlands doubled its count to 4.

In the Middle East, where the rig count has held steady during the global industry downturn, 7 units went offline to settle at a March average of 397, down just 10 year-over-year.

The loss largely reflected a 4-unit decline in Egypt to 31, down 10 year-over-year; and a 2-unit decrease in Kuwait to 41, down 12 year-over-year. Pakistan jumped 3 units to 24.

The Asia-Pacific region edged up a unit to 183, down 50 year-over-year. Notable movement included a 4-unit jump in India to 103, and 2-unit declines in each of Thailand and Malaysia to 14 and 3, respectively.

Africa posted a 3-unit gain to 91, still down 34 year-over-year. Algeria and Nigeria each added 2 units to reach respective averages of 54 and 8. Algeria is even with its year-ago average.

Contact Matt Zborowski at

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