Baker Hughes this week reported yet another increase in the U.S. oil and gas rig count, with 5 more rigs coming online. The previous two weeks have seen increases of 16 and 13 rigs respectively, bringing the total number of active rigs to 658. The U.S. is now just 40 rigs below the count this time last year as North-American E&P companies are reacting on the OPEC agreement which has already bumped up oil prices to 18-month highs.
More specific, Baker Hughes sees the U.S. oil rig count increasing by just two rigs while the gas rig count added 3 rigs amid rapidly rising natural gas prices. The Permian basin counted 2 more oil rigs this week while the Eagle Ford added one rig.
The U.S. rig count is poised to grow further as the last credit redetermination period showed that the industry has already passed an inflection point, meaning that banks are more eager to issue new credit to drillers. While banks were reluctant to open the money tap earlier this year, rising oil prices and an improved outlook for U.S. shale drillers are reason enough for banks to expand credit facilities once again.
According to Raymond James, capex in U.S. shale could increase as much as 30 percent as a result of looser credit lines.
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Oil prices continued to trade slightly lower following the rig count release, with WTI trading 0,37 percent down at $53.57 and Brent trading 0,44 percent down at $56.58 at the time of writing.
By Tom Kool of Oilprice.com
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"Oil and gas production stopped declining this quarter after falling throughout the year, according to executives at exploration and production (E&P) firms."
Now, the survey respondents reside in the 11th District which encompasses both the preeminent Permian, as well as the Eagle Ford basins. Since the nadir of the week of May 27, 2016 when Baker Hughes reported 316 active oil rigs, US E&Ps have added 209 up through the 7 months ended today (12/30/16). The VAST majority of those rigs have been added in the 11th District, and the Permian hosts the most productive wells with the lowest break-evens in the country. And THESE guys just acknowledged that production has "stopped declining". It can be assumed that the less productive plays across the rest of the country are continuing the decline in production. This is the basis for the EIA projection that US Lower 48 on-shore production continues to decline through 2Q17.
It stands to reason that, if the EIA is right and production declines over the next 6 months, then "shale exploding soon enough to not only cap prices, but squash the OPEC/NOPEC deal" appears a bit, shale we say, overzealous/premature.