(Reuters) – U.S. energy companies posted the highest number of oil and gas rigs in a week since January even as oil prices this week pulled back from a 28-month high.
The number of oil and gas rigs, an early indicator of future output, rose nine to 411 a week to March 19, the highest level since April, energy services firm Baker Hughes Co said in its report followed closely Friday.
That adds the rig count, which has climbed over the past seven months, up 68% since falling to a low of 244 in August 2020, according to Baker Hughes data back. to 1940. The total count, however, remains 361 rigs, or 47%, by this time last year.
U.S. oil prices rose nine to 318 this week, the highest level since May, while gas collectors remained unchanged at 92.
More than half of U.S. oil rigs are in the Permian basin in West Texas and eastern New Mexico where total units rose four to 216 this week, mostly since May.
So far this year, drills have added 41 cranes in the Permian. That compares with lazy-beds added to the basin in the same period last year.
Oil production from Permian, the country’s main production hub, is expected to rise for a second straight month in April, the government said in a monthly forecast Monday.
U.S. crude futures fell this week with a majority since September 2020 on growing concerns about rising COVID-19 cases in Europe after soaring high 28 months nearly $ 68 per barrel earlier this month. [O/R]
With prices rising sharply from October 2020, some energy companies have increased spending in 2021 after cutting drilling and finishing costs over the past two years.
That increase in spending, however, remains small as companies continue to focus on increasing cash flow, reducing debt and increasing shareholder yield rather than increasing productivity.
U.S. financial services firm Cowen & Co said its remaining 45 independent research and production (E&P) companies aim to increase spending by about 2% in 2021 against 2020. that follows capex reductions of about 49% in 2020 and 12% in 2019.
Reciting with Scott DiSavino; Edited by Marguerita Choy