Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry
September 2023

Vol. 28, No.38 Week of September 17, 2023

US rotary drilling rig count up 1, to 632

Kristen Nelson

Petroleum News

The Baker Hughes' U.S. rotary drilling rig count saw a reverse the week ending Sept. 8, up by one rig to 632, the first increase in the count since July 7, following a downward trend dominant since the beginning of May and eight consecutive weeks of declines. This count is down by 127 from 759 a year ago.

A drop of 17 on May 12 was the steepest drop since June of 2020, during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Sept. 8 count is the lowest since Feb. 4, 2022, when the count was 613. The count dropped below 700 the week ending June 2, the first time it has been below 700 since April 2022. This week's count is down from a high so far this year of 775 on Jan. 13. The high for 2022 was a count of 784 rigs at the beginning of December.

When the count dropped to 244 in mid-August 2020, it was the lowest the domestic rotary rig count had been since the Houston based oilfield services company began issuing weekly U.S. numbers in 1944.

Prior to 2020, the low was 404 rigs in May 2016. The count peaked at 4,530 in 1981.

The count was in the low 790s at the beginning of 2020 prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, where it remained through mid-March of that year, when it began to fall, dropping below what had been the historic low in early May with a count of 374 and continuing to drop through the third week of August 2020 when it gained back 10 rigs.

The Sept. 8 count includes 513 rigs targeting oil, up by one from the previous week and down by 78 from 591 a year ago, with 113 rigs targeting natural gas, down by one from the previous week and down 53 from 166 a year ago, and six miscellaneous rigs, up by one from the previous week and up by four from a year ago.

Fifty-six of the rigs reported Sept. 8 were drilling directional wells, 562 were drilling horizontal wells and 14 were drilling vertical wells.

Alaska rig count unchanged

Texas (310) was up by four rigs and California (5) gained three.

New Mexico (104) and North Dakota (30) were each down by three rigs, while Utah (14) and West Virginia (8) were down one.

Rig counts in other states were unchanged from the previous week: Alaska (9), Colorado (15), Louisiana (42), Ohio (10), Oklahoma (39), Pennsylvania (21) and Wyoming (20).

Baker Hughes shows Alaska with nine rotary rigs active Sept. 8, unchanged from the previous week and down by one from a year ago. Eight of the Alaska rigs were onshore, unchanged from the previous week, and one rig was working offshore, also unchanged.

The rig count in the Permian, the most active basin in the country, was up by one from the previous week at 320 and down by 2 from 340 a year ago.

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