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Baker Hughes (ticker: BHI) released its weekly rig count tally on Thursday, July 2 – one day earlier than normal in consideration of the July 4th Independence Day holiday. The United States added three rigs to its fleet in the latest report and now has 862 total. A total of 12 oil-focused rigs joined the fleet, breaking a 29-week decline that extended back to December.

The largest gainers by play were the Eagle Ford and Williston, who each increased their count by three. All remaining plays were very stable, either maintaining the count or adding/subtracting a single rig. The largest gainers by state were North Dakota and Texas with two apiece, while Louisiana was the biggest loser, dropping two. Texas currently accounts for 42% of all rigs in the United States.

Canada, meanwhile, increased its number by four and has added to its operations in five of the last six weeks. Its 139 running rigs are the most since the week of March 27.

The freefalling numbers, on a North American level, had slowed significantly in the last few months, leaving oil traders, analysts and industry professionals wondering if the trough was near. “The bottom is passing and the upturn is arriving,” said analysts at Evercore ISI, a banking advisory firm, who believe about 100 rigs will be added to the United States rig count between now and year-end. If that estimation proves to be correct, the counts will still be about half the amount from year-end 2014.

Oil & Gas 360® asked Lynn Helms, director of North Dakota’s Department of Mineral Resources, about drilling activity in his state.

OAG360: Oil prices have stabilized in recent months and the drop in rig counts has slowed. Do you think we’ve done the trough as far as the rig count is concerned?

HELMS: Yeah that’s our sense, and feedback from operators is that we’re either at the bottom or very, very near it. We’ve seen a few more rigs idled than we expected, say a month ago, and operators are still experimenting  a little bit with reducing rig counts by very small numbers to see if drilling efficiency for the remaining rigs will make up for it. But it’s very small numbers – ones and twos, out of 35 operators.


The full interview with Helms may be read here.

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