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Euan Mearns

Euan Mearns

"Euan Mearns is a geologist and geochemist. In recent years he was a principal at The Oil Drum, the worlds leading energy blog, until it…

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Rig Count Data Shows Gulf States Cranking Up Pressure On The U.S.

The global rig count statistics published by Baker Hughes provide a crucial industry activity indicator and some of the most up to date industry statistics available. This is a short report updating international statistics to March 2015 and US statistics to 10 April 2015.

 MiddleEastRigCount

Figure 1 The Middle East OPEC gulf states continue to confound expectations by increasing their rig count and drilling, evidently intent on keeping the oil market over-supplied and the oil price suppressed. Oil rig count for these 4 countries increased 6 to 161 for the month of March. Saudi oil production hit a new record of 10.3 Mbpd in March. Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi wants price stability and order to return to the market but on OPEC’s terms. Related: Could We Finally Have A Meaningful Oil Price Rally?

 WorldRIgCOunt

Figure 2 The international oil rig count peaked at 1080 in July 2014 and has since fallen 104 (10%) to 976 units in March 2015. This is as yet a very muted response to what is a full blown industry crisis. It does take longer for offshore drilling to wind down and it is possible that companies with rigs on contract have simply parked them for the time being. Related: How Much Longer Can OPEC Hold Out?

 EuanUSRIG

Figure 3 This chart shows that the combined US oil plus gas rig count is now approaching the lows seen in the wake of the financial crisis in 2008 / 09. The low point then was 876 rigs in June 2009. The total now is 988. But note how oil and gas drilling is now reversed.

 USRIGSSSSSS

Figure 4 Detail of Figure 3. The pause in the decline of the oil rig count seen in recent weeks was reversed last Friday with a drop of 42 rigs for the week. The most recent data for US oil production for February 2015 shows no sign of the LTO production glut abating. Notably the gas rig count ticked up by 3 units this last week to 225 suggesting perhaps that surplus US gas production capacity has now disappeared. But one needs to ask where this leaves US plans to export LNG? Related: The Real History Of Fracking

There are a large number of forces pulling on the oil industry that more recently include the bombing of Yemen by Saudi Arabia and allies and the imminent lifting of sanctions on Iran. Iran may add a further 1 million barrels per day to the glut.

 IranProduction

Figure 5 Iranian production was never fully curtailed by sanctions and may recover by about 1 million barrels per day with the lifting of sanctions.

Euan Mearns For Euanmearns.com

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