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Natural Gas Rig Count Might Impact Natural Gas Prices

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Nov. 20 2020, Updated 12:02 p.m. ET

Natural gas rig count

The natural gas rig count was at 202 last week, which was four more than the previous week. The rig count was at the highest level since September 2015. The natural gas rig count has fallen ~87.4% from its record level of 1,606 in 2008.

Between January 2008 and September 2018, US natural gas’s marketed production rose ~64.5% despite the falling natural gas rig count. As a result of the increased supply, natural gas active futures have fallen 55.4% since January 2008.

Rising US oil production is the key factor behind the increase in natural gas supplies. Since natural gas is often a by-product of US shale oil production, it’s important to monitor the oil rig count to understand natural gas supplies.

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Crude oil rig count

Between January 4, 2008, and January 11, 2018, the oil rig count more than doubled. Based on the relationship between oil prices and the oil rig count, the oil rig count is expected to keep rising until at least March 2019. A higher oil rig count could boost crude oil and natural gas supplies and pressure natural gas prices. Last week, the oil rig count fell by four to 873.

Based on the drilling productivity report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration on December 17, the natural gas production in major US shale regions could rise 21.7% year-over-year in January. Natural gas bears might appreciate the increased supply, which could impact natural gas’s rise.

Energy stocks and energy ETFs

In the trailing week, natural gas–weighted stocks Chesapeake Energy (CHK), Southwestern Energy (SWN), and Cabot Oil & Gas (COG) rose 16.3%, 7.3%, and 1.6%, respectively. During this period, natural gas February futures rose 18%.

In the seven days ending on January 15, the SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Exploration & Production ETF (XOP) and the Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLE) rose ~3% and 1.4%, respectively. These ETFs contain natural gas producer stocks that could be sensitive to the oil and gas rig counts.

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