Saturday, March 14, 2009

Natural Gas Exploration Rigs Down

The number of rigs actively exploring for oil and natural gas in the United States dropped by 44 this week to 1,126, as weak energy demand continues to hamper oilfield activity.

Of the rigs running nationwide, 884 were exploring for natural gas and 228 for oil, Houston-based Baker Hughes Inc. reported Friday. A total of 14 were listed as miscellaneous.

A year ago, the rig count stood at 1,792. The U.S. count is down more than 40 percent since the end of August. Oil prices peaked near $150 a barrel in July before plunging. Light, sweet crude for April delivery fell 42 cents to $46.61 in trading Friday on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Of the major oil- and gas-producing states, Texas lost 24 rigs, Oklahoma and North Dakota each lost five, Louisiana and Wyoming each lost three, Arkansas and Colorado each lost two and California lost one. New Mexico picked up one, and Alaska was unchanged.

Baker Hughes has tracked rig counts since 1944. The tally peaked at 4,530 in 1981, during the height of the oil boom. The industry posted several record lows in 1999, bottoming out at 488.

No comments: