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Sharp Rise In Rig Count Pressures Oil Prices

The the number of active oil and gas rigs rose by 19 after two weeks of big losses in the United States this week according to Baker Hughes, in a sign that US production is still set for increases.

The total number of active oil and gas drilling rigs rose by 20 rigs­ according to the report with the number of active oil rigs gaining 15 to reach 831 and the number of gas rigs gaining 4 to reach 194.

The oil and gas rig count is now just 22 up from this time last year, with oil seeing just a 23-rig increase year on year, gas rigs holding flat, and miscellaneous rigs seeing a 1-rig decrease for the year.

Oil prices were trading up earlier on Friday leading up to the data release as early figures came in for OPEC’s March oil production from S&P Platts, which showed that its oil production had fallen by 570,000 barrels per day from February levels as Venezuela and Saudi Arabia saw steep declines in production levels.

WTI was trading up $0.49 (+0.79%) at $62.59—well above the psychologically important $60 per barrel mark. The Brent benchmark was trading up $0.48 (+0.69%) at $69.88 at 12:18pm EST, after easing off the $70 per barrel mark earlier this week. Prices for both represent a significant gain week on week. Related: Is This The End Of Colorado’s Shale Boom?

Despite the drop off in the number of active rigs, US crude oil production for week ending March 29 was 12.2 million barrels—another new all-time high.

Unlike in the United States, Canada saw a decline in the number of active rigs this week. Canada’s total oil and gas rig count fell by 20 after falling by 19 last week, and is now just 68, which is 43 fewer rigs than this time last year as Canada’s oil industry continues to face steep uphill battles over its constrained pipeline capacity that is necessary to get its heavy crude to market along with production caps instituted to keep Western Canadian Select prices from falling further.

By 1:09pm EDT, WTI was trading up 0.87% (+$0.54) at $62.64 on the day. Brent crude was trading up 0.78% (+$0.54) at $69.94 per barrel.

By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com

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