Why you should monitor record-breaking horizontal rig counts

Part 5
Why you should monitor record-breaking horizontal rig counts (Part 5 of 6)

Why natural gas–targeted rig counts took a U-turn last week

Year-to-date counts are still significantly down even though gas rigs increased by three last week

The U.S. natural rig count was up by three rigs, from 313 to 316, during the week ending August 8. Most of the increase took place in the “other” regions that fall outside the primary gas-producing shales.

Nat Gas rig Aug-13 to Aug-14Enlarge Graph

Natural gas rigs have decreased throughout 2014. At the beginning of this year, natural gas rigs drilling totaled 372. The current natural gas rig count of 316 represents a drop of 56, or ~15%.

Most of the decline in natural gas rigs came from the Eagle Ford at -21, the Cana Woodford at -13, and the Marcellus at -13.

A declining trend

The drop in natural gas rigs year-to-date represents the continuation of a trend that has been ongoing since late 2011, when natural gas rigs topped 900.

Natural gas rigs drilling can show you the sentiment of major natural gas producers like Chesapeake Energy (CHK), Comstock Resources (CRK), Southwestern Energy (SWN), and Range Resources (RRC). Many of these names are also part of energy exchange-traded funds (or ETFs) like the S&P Oil & Gas Exploration & Production ETF (XOP).

However, while the number of gas rigs in the U.S. has been declining, the production of natural gas continues to rise.

Read on to the next part of this series to learn why natural gas production continues to increase even as the number of gas-targeted rigs falls.

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