(platts.com) The total US rig count, which on Friday stood at 476, is now at its lowest point ever in the 67-year history of the Baker Hughes numbers, according to data released by the oilfield service company.
That is down by four from last week and down from 1,069 working the same week in 2015 and a recent peak of 1,931 in late 2014. The previous low was 488 in April 1999, Baker Hughes records show.
Meanwhile, the US oil rig count posted its first gain in three months, rising by one to 387 amid speculation that a recent rally in crude prices could signal that a long-awaited industry turnaround may be at hand.
The 387 oil rigs this week were down 53% from 825 the same week a year ago, and a recent peak of 1,607 in late 2014.
Also, the Eagle Ford Shale in south Texas, one of the US’ largest oil plays, gained three rigs this week to 40, although this was about a third of the 122 rigs employed there the same week in 2015, Baker Hughes data show.
“I think we’re close to the bottom” of the down cycle, Griffin Securities analyst Kevin Simpson said, although he added he did not expect a pickup in drilling “quite this early.”
“Companies have obviously scaled their operations to a lower price than we are at now,” and are cautiously watching US and international production and demand estimates for signs of market balance, Simpson said.
Oil prices that began sliding in mid-2014 from $100/b and reached the mid-to-high $20s/b earlier this year have now picked up to around the $40/b level.