News wire — U.S. energy firms added oil and natural gas rigs this week, with the total count rising for an eighth month and a second quarter in a row as higher oil prices prompt drillers back to the wellpad.
The oil and gas rig count, an early indicator of future output, rose six to 417 in the week to March 26, its highest since April last year, energy services firm Baker Hughes Co said in its closely followed report on Friday.
That puts the rig count up 71% from a record low of 244 in August 2020, according to Baker Hughes data going back to 1940. The total count, however, is still 311 rigs, or 43%, below this time last year.
In March, the total rig count was up for an eighth month in a row for the first time since July 2017, rising by 15.
In the first three months of 2021, the first quarter, the total rig count is up for a second quarter in a row for the first time since the fourth quarter of 2018. In the second quarter, rigs rose by 66, versus an increase of 90 in the first quarter.
U.S. oil rigs rose six to 324 this week, their highest since May, while gas rigs were unchanged at 92 for a fifth week in a row.
The oil rig count has risen for a seventh month in a row and a second consecutive quarter.
Activity and spending in U.S. oil fields is soaring this year as the industry recovers from last year’s pandemic-driven oil price crash, according to cautiously optimistic energy company executives polled by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas in a survey released on Wednesday.
U.S. crude futures were up about 26% so far this year but this week were on track to decline for a third time in a row for the first time since April 2020. [O/R]
“We still see total horizontal activity continuing to trend higher in the coming months,” analysts at Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co said in a note.
(Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Marguerita Choy)
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