Oil, gas-targeting rigs both unchanged for fourth time in 31 years

Drilling activity held flat this week, the first unchanged week since February, according to the latest edition of Baker Hughes’ Weekly Rig Count.

One land-based rig shut down this week, while one offshore rig began drilling. This means there are 1,034 land, two inland waters and 21 offshore rigs active in the U.S., for a national total of 1,057.

Unusually, the number of rigs targeting oil, gas and miscellaneous targets were all constant this week, with no change in activity. This is a very rare situation, as even if the overall national rig count is constant the number of oil and gas rigs typically changes. Baker Hughes, which has tracked commodity targets since 1987, has recorded this situation only three other times, most recently in 2009.

While the commodities targeted by rigs were constant this week, rig trajectories saw significant change. Six directional rigs came online this week, the largest increase in such rigs since May. Two horizontal rigs came offline, while four vertical rigs shut down. This continues the general trend of directional rigs supplanting vertical activity, as directional rigs once again outnumber vertical ones. There are currently 70 active directional rigs, compared to 65 vertical rigs. Horizontal activity, of course, far exceeds either with 922 such rigs drilling this week.

New Mexico rigs fall from last week’s peak

Rig counts saw many changes in individual states and basins, despite the constant overall activity. Three rigs began drilling in Texas, while two came online in Louisiana and Pennsylvania. One rig also started activities in Oklahoma. Three came offline in New Mexico, as the state fell off slightly from multi-decade highs. One rig also shut down in Alaska, Nebraska, Ohio, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Activity among major basins continued last week’s unusual trend, with a sharp increase in drilling in minor basins not tracked individually by Baker. Seven rigs began drilling in these basins, while activity in most major basins fell. Three rigs shut down in the Cana Woodford, two came offline in the Granite Wash and Mississippian and one stopped drilling in the DJ-Niobrara, Haynesville and Utica. The only increases in basin rig counts were seen in the Arkoma Woodford, Marcellus and Permian, which added one rig each.

Canadian drilling nearly flat

Operations were also nearly flat in Canada, where only three rigs came online. Canadian drilling activity is highly variable, large swings in rig counts are common. Two new rigs are targeting gas, while one is drilling for oil, exactly the reverse of the current proportions in the country. There are now 141 oil and 71 gas rigs, for a grand total of 212. Five rigs began drilling in Alberta, while one shut down in Manitoba and Newfoundland.

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