Permian Witnesses Oil Rig Count Decline in 9 of 10 Weeks

Zacks Equity Research

In its weekly release, Baker Hughes, a GE company BHGE reported a decline in weekly rig count in the United States.

More on the Rig Count

Baker Hughes’ data, issued at the end of every week since 1944, helps energy service providers gauge the overall business environment of the oil and gas industry.

A change in the Houston-based oilfield services player’s rotary rig count affects demand for energy services like drilling, completion and production provided by the likes of Halliburton Company HAL, Schlumberger Limited SLB, Diamond Offshore Drilling, Inc DO and Transocean Ltd. RIG.


Total US Rig Count Decreases: Rigs engaged in the exploration and production of oil and natural gas in the United States totaled 967 in the week ended Jun 21, down from the prior-week tally of 969. With this, the tally declined in 10 of the past 11 weeks. The current national rig count is also lower than the prior year’s 1052.

The number of onshore rigs, through the week ended Jun 21, totaled 939, lower than the previous week’s count of 941. However, four rigs operated in inland waters and 24 rigs worked in the offshore plays. The count of both inland and offshore rigs was in line with the prior-week tally.

US Adds One Oil Rig: Oil rig tally was 789, up from 788 in the week ended Jun 14. This marks an increase after two consecutive weeks of decline. However, the current total, far from the peak of 1,609 attained in October 2014, is lower than 862 a year ago.

Natural Gas Rig Count Decreases in US: The natural gas rig count of 177 is lower than the count of 181 for the week ended Jun 14.

Moreover, the count of rigs exploring the commodity is lower than the prior-year weeks’ tally of 188. Per the latest report, the number of natural gas-directed rigs is 89% below the all-time high of 1,606 recorded in 2008.

Rig Count by Type: The number of vertical drilling rigs totaled 53 units against the previous week’s 49. However, the horizontal/directional rig count (encompassing new drilling technology with the ability to drill and extract gas from dense rock formations, also known as shale formations) of 914 was below the prior-week level of 920.

Gulf of Mexico (GoM) Rig Count Flat: The GoM rig count is 24 units, of which 22 were oil-directed. The count was in line with the prior-week tally.

Permian Basin Count

Two oil drilling rigs were removed from the Permian Basin. Notably, Permian — the most prolific basin in the United States which employs roughly half of the nation’s total rigs — has seen a decline in oil rigs in nine of the last 10 weeks. This reflects conservative capital spending by domestic explorers as instead of putting more effort to pump black gold, investors are urging upstream energy players to focus on returning capital to shareholders through dividend payments and stock repurchases.

Despite the bearish landscape, it would be wise for investors to consider Permian drillers as they have become more efficient with the deployment of lesser rigs to produce more of crude volumes. Two Permian drillers that investors may consider are Devon Energy Corporation DVN and Pioneer Natural Resources Company PXD. Both the stocks carry a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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Halliburton Company (HAL) : Free Stock Analysis Report
Schlumberger Limited (SLB) : Free Stock Analysis Report
Transocean Ltd. (RIG) : Free Stock Analysis Report
Diamond Offshore Drilling, Inc. (DO) : Free Stock Analysis Report
Devon Energy Corporation (DVN) : Free Stock Analysis Report
Pioneer Natural Resources Company (PXD) : Free Stock Analysis Report
Baker Hughes, a GE company (BHGE) : Free Stock Analysis Report
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