The total rig count in the U.S. was unchanged this week at 952 as the nation’s drillers added two oil rigs but took away just as many gas rigs, according to the latest rig report from Baker Hughes (NYSE: BHGE).
The weekly report showed the U.S. oil rig count was up two to 765 for the week ending July 14, while gas rigs dropped by two to 187.
Drillers in the Permian added the most rigs, growing its count by four to 373.
Four fewer rigs were pumping in each the Eagle Ford and Cana Woodford, compared to last week’s tally.
Farther north in Canada, the rig count saw a double-digit jump, going from 175 last week to 191 this week, while the Gulf of Mexico count remained unchanged at 21—the same as last year and the same as a year ago, the report showed.
The stagnating count in the U.S. comes as commodity prices continue working to rebound from the downturn as crude inventories fall.
Oil rose 1% on July 14, boosted by a supply interruption in Nigeria and prices were headed for a weekly gain of more than 4% on lower U.S. stockpiles, but trading was volatile as global supply remained strong and some were concerned about economic growth prospects.
Benchmark Brent and U.S. WTI crude oil contracts were on track for weekly gains of more than 4%, but fluctuated between intraday gains to losses amid conflicting signals on the supply -and-demand picture.
Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil, were up 54 cents or 1.12%at $48.96 per barrel at 12:32 p.m. (1632 GMT) U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures were up 55 cents, or about 1.2%, at $46.63 per barrel.
“I think the big driver is inventory numbers,” said Stewart Glickman, head of energy research at CFRA Research in New York, "We’ve finally broken below 500 million barrels, I feel like it’s a psychological barrier.”
U.S. crude inventories fell 7.6 million barrels last week, its biggest weekly plunge in 10 months, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said on July 12. Still, oil stocks remained comfortably above the five-year average, and prices are more than 16% below their 2017 highs.
Prices spiked early in the day following a force majeure declaration on exports of Nigeria’s Bonny Light crude. They sank into negative territory after data showed U.S. retail sales fell unexpectedly in June, casting doubt on demand in the world’s largest oil consumer.
Output cuts from producing countries coordinated by OPEC have been stymied by rising output from Libya and Nigeria, which are exempt. June compliance among other members also fell to just 78% according to the International Energy Agency.