Rig count jumps in the US, drops dramatically in Canada

By Phaedra Friend Troy

According to the weekly rig report from oilfield services firm Baker Hughes (NYSE:BHI), the number of rotary drilling rigs actively working in North America dropped due to a major decrease in the number of rigs working in Canada this week, representing about a third of the active fleet. 

In the US, the number of drilling rigs jumped by 38 this week to 1,776 active rigs drilling across the country – both onshore and offshore. An increase of 311 year over year, drilling activity continues to ramp up in the various shale plays across the nation. 

US Gulf of Mexico Remains Stunted 

While the number of offshore rigs working in the US Gulf of Mexico is roughly half that of this time last year, there remain 27 rigs active in the Gulf – a drop of one during the week. Hit by the drilling moratorium and delayed permitting as safety regulations are sorted out, drilling in the waters of the GOM has dropped dramatically, although BOEMRE has now approved its eighth deepwater well in a little over a month. 

Unconventional Developments Support Onshore Drilling in the US 

Onshore the US, Texas outranks all other states for drilling activity with 770 active rigs in the Lone Star State -- and increase of four for the week. With activity heating up in the Permian Basin and Eagle Ford Shale, as well as drilling and development in the Haynesville Shale and Barnette Shale, the number of drilling rigs in Texas has increased by 147 units year over year. 

Oklahoma saw the biggest jump in rig activity, adding 19 units over the week. While Oklahoma has consistently seen drilling activity and serves as a major domestic source of natural gas, increased interest and activity in the Woodford Shale has likely spurred this recent run. With 175 active rigs in the state, Oklahoma has added 56 rigs over the last year. 

Louisiana also boasts 175 active rigs, a number supported by drilling in the Haynesville Shale, as well as offshore developments, although the number has fallen by 43 year over year. 

With 159 active rigs in the state, North Dakota added four rigs this week and 65 over the last year. With ramped up drilling and development in the oil-rich Bakken Shale, production from North Dakota may very well out pace that from Alaska, which only has six rigs drilling in it this week. 

Canada Sees Major Drop 

Experiencing a massive drop in active drilling rigs, Canada lost some 144 rigs this week with only 285 rigs working in the country. Despite the drop, this is an increase of 134 rigs year over year, most likely spurred by the elevated price of oil, which supports oil sands development, as well as increased activity in various shale and unconventional plays across Canada.

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