Natural gas rig counts return to a familiar downward trend

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Oct. 6 2014, Updated 7:14 p.m. ET

Gas rigs are down by eight

The U.S. natural gas rig count was down by eight rigs, from 338 to 330, during the week ending October 3. Rigs characterized as “other”, rigs falling outside the conventional production zones, decreased by six this week.

This was the third decrease in the weekly rig count in the past four weeks. Natural gas rig counts have been on a downward trend for about three years.Natural gas rigs

Gas rigs are down year-to-date

Natural gas rigs decreased for most of 2014. At the beginning of the year, natural gas rigs totaled 372. Currently, there are 330 rigs. This represents a decrease of 42 rigs, or ~11%. In the corresponding period of 2013, weekly natural gas rig counts dropped by 61, or ~16%.

In 2014, most of the decline in natural gas rigs came from the Eagle Ford at -17, the Cana Woodford at -15, and the Mississippian at -5. Year-to-date (or YTD), the Granite Wash added the most rigs, +17, to its natural gas rig total.

The YTD drop in natural gas rigs continues the downward trend that started in late 2011. Natural gas rigs topped 930 in October 2011.

Key stocks and ETFs

The number of natural gas rigs can indicate major natural gas producers’ sentiment towards drilling. Major natural gas producers include Chesapeake Energy (CHK), Consol Energy (CNX), Southwestern Energy (SWN), and Antero Resources (AR).

Some natural gas producers are part of energy ETFs like the S&P Oil & Gas Exploration & Production ETF (XOP). Check out our recent natural gas inventory and price series for additional information about this sector.

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