The U.S. rig count plunged again this week, falling by an additional 30 rigs for the week ending on February 12.
Baker Hughes reported that oil rigs fell by 28 to 439, and the natural gas sector lost 2 rigs, for a total of 102. Combined, there are 541 active oil and gas rigs in the United States. Related: The Hidden Agenda Behind Saudi Arabia’s Market Share Strategy
The dismal numbers follow an even worse report the week before, when the rig count plummeted by 48. Energy analysts have closely watched the active rig count since the beginning of the oil bust more than a year and a half ago. The rig count has fallen by more than 70 percent since a high of over 1,900 rigs in the 3rd quarter of 2014.
But the drop off has accelerated once again since oil prices crashed into the low $30s per barrel and below. The U.S. has lost an additional 157 rigs since the start of the year, posting another 20 percent decline in just six weeks.
Of course, rig counts are disappearing around the world, it is just that the U.S. has the most reliable data. For example, Ecuador, one of the smallest producers in OPEC, is down to just a single rig. That is a massive problem for a country that depends on oil for 50 percent of its export earnings.
With oil prices down below $30 per barrel, a lot of companies will be hard pressed to justify spending money on deploying rigs to drill unprofitable wells.
By Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com
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