US total rig count
According to oilfield services company Baker Hughes (BHI), there were 988 active oil and gas rigs in the US during the week ending April 10, 2015—40 fewer active rigs than in the week ending April 2. This count represents the highest rig count decrease in the past three weeks.
The US rig count generally experienced an uptrend in 2014, but that trend has reversed in the past three months. Eighteen consecutive weeks of falling rig counts show that US drilling activity is on a downturn. Last week’s count was the 22nd rig count decrease in the past six months.
Rig count at lowest since August 2009
After last week’s drop, the US rig count was at its lowest level since August 21, 2009. A fall in the onshore rig count led the week’s figures. According to Baker Hughes, March’s average rig count of 1,110 declined by 238 over February’s average of 1,348. September 2014’s average rig count of 1,931 was the highest since July 2012.
Energy companies like Continental Resources (CLR), Occidental Petroleum (OXY), Encana Corporation (ECA), and Devon Energy (DVN) have upstream operations. A falling rig count indicates a decline in production, which means a slowdown in production growth.
Some of these companies are part of the SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Exploration & Production ETF (XOP). Together, CLR and DVN account for 3% of XOP’s total market capitalization. OXY accounts for 3.6% of the iShares US Energy ETF (IYE).
Why have total US rig counts been falling for so long? We’ll explore this issue in the next part of our series.