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Key Indicator Shows Signs Of Oil Market Recovery

The North American Frac Spread Count has increased to triple digits this week, according to big data company Primary Vision

The Frac Spread Count, which calculates the fracking completion crews currently finishing off wells, increased this week to 101, up by 12 from last week, the data released on Wednesday shows. 

This is likely attributed, according to Primary Vision, to operators shifting their focus from drilling new wells to finishing off already-drilled ones. 

The largest gains are seen in the Eagle Ford, the Haynesville, and Bakken formations. 

Some of these completion plans were hatched last year in better times, and some of it can be attributed to seasonality—there is often an uptick in well completions after the summer season, according to Primary Vision data. Still, the frac spread count is a fairly reliable indicator of the overall health of the industry. 

While this data suggests that things may be looking up in some shale formations, bankruptcies and job cuts in the shale patch are continuing. The latest of these bankruptcies is Oasis Petroleum, which filed for Chapter 11 on Wednesday. Oasis joins the other 20 or so oil companies in the U.S. shale patch that have filed for such protections in the wake of the demand destruction caused by the coronavirus, the overflowing oil inventories as a result of the price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia, and the resulting low oil prices of the two.

Oil prices have been rangebound over the last couple of months, with WTI hovering around $40 as the market waits for clear demand signals. So far, most demand forecasts—including from BP, Total SE, the IEA, and OPEC—have painted a bleak picture of the time it will take—if ever—for oil demand to rebound to pre-coronavirus levels. 

By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com

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