Exploration & Production

US drillers add oil rigs


US energy firms added oil rigs for the first time in the past three weeks despite sharp declines in crude futures prices to their lowest since the summer of 2017.

Drillers added 10 oil rigs in the week to December 21, bringing the total count to 883, General Electric Co’s Baker Hughes energy services firm said in its closely followed report. This was the biggest weekly gain in rig numbers since early November.

More than half the total US oil rigs are in the Permian Basin, the country’s biggest shale oil formation. Active units there held steady this week at 486, the lowest since early October.

Drillers added 2 rigs in the Niobrara shale in Colorado and Wyoming, bringing the total there up to 30, the most since September 2017, and three rigs in Williston in North Dakota and Montana, bringing the total up to 56.

The US rig count, an early indicator of future output, is higher than a year ago when 747 rigs were active as energy companies have spent more to capture higher prices.

US crude futures were trading around $46 a barrel, down about 10 per cent for the week, as global oversupply kept buyers away from the market ahead of the end of year holidays. Earlier, the contract fell to its lowest since July 2017.

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