US total rig count
According to Baker Hughes (BHI)—an oilfield services company—there were 932 active oil and gas rigs in the US during the week ending April 24, 2015. There were 22 fewer active rigs than in the week ending April 17. After last week’s fall, the average four-week US rig count drop slowed down to 29. In comparison, the rig count drop averaged 55 in the four weeks before that.
The US rig count generally experienced an uptrend throughout most of 2014. However, that trend reversed in the past five months with 20 consecutive weeks of falling rig counts.
Rig count is the lowest since July 2009
After last week’s drop, the US rig count was at its lowest level since July 17, 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 compared to February’s average of 1,348. In September 2014, the average rig count was 1,931—the highest since July 2012.
Energy companies like Chevron (CVX), ConocoPhillips (COP), and Continental Resources (CLR) have upstream operations. A falling rig count should typically lead to a slowdown in production growth and possibly even a decline in production.
Some of these companies are part of the Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLE). Chevron accounts for 12.9% of XLE’s total market capitalization. Chevron and EOG Resources together account for 14.8% of the iShares U.S. Energy ETF (IYE).
Why have the total US rig counts been falling for so long? We’ll explore this issue in the next part of this series.