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Number of US rigs drilling for gas remains unchanged: Baker Hughes

Houston (Platts)--6 Apr 2018 518 pm EDT/2118 GMT


At 194, the number of rigs drilling for natural gas in the US remained unchanged this week compared with last week, according to Baker Hughes North American Rig Count, released Friday.

Similarly, at 63, there was no change in the number of rigs drilling for gas in Canada, Baker Hughes reported.

The number of US gas-directed rigs increased by 29, compared with 165 in the same week of last year, while the number of rigs drilling for gas in Canada increased by six over the same period.

Among US producing basins, the Marcellus Shale led in the number of rigs drilling for gas, 56 this week, down one rig from last week. This was followed by the Haynesville Shale, where 51 operating rigs were reported, unchanged from the previous week.

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The Others category, comprising a collection of smaller producing basins, had 45 gas-directed rigs, down one from last week. In the Utica Basin, 24 gas rigs were reported, compared with 22 last week.

Seven rigs were reported drilling for gas in the Midcontinent's Arkoma-Woodford play and the Eagle Ford basin of South Texas, while three rigs were reported in North Texas Barnett Shale play, down one rig from last week.

At 808, more than four times as many US rigs were drilling for oil than for gas, according to Baker Hughes. The number of US oil-directed rigs rose by 11, compared with 797 oil rigs the previous week. In Canada, the number of oil-directed rigs fell by 23 week on week to 48.

DRILLING ACTIVITY IN APPALACHIA LAGS BEHIND PERMIAN

Drilling activity in the gas-producing Marcellus and Utica shale plays of the Appalachian region lagged behind that of the crude-oil dominant Permian Basin. The rig utilization rate in the Northeast region, which includes Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia, was down to 35% as of March 30, said LuAnn Zellner, drilling data operations manager for S&P Global RigData.

As of March 30, a number of the big drilling contractors in the region had reported that relatively few of the rigs available for drilling in the region -- which includes the Marcellus and Utica plays -- were in operation.

"Falcon Drilling has 10 in their fleet, and six are working; Helmerich and Payne has 18 rigs in the fleet and 11 are working," Zellner said. Sidewinder Drilling, which has an office in Pennsylvania, has 12 marketed rigs, but only one is working, while Pioneer Drilling in Rices Landing, Pennsylvania, has seven rigs in its fleet, six of which are working.

Patterson Drilling, which has offices in Pennsylvania and Ohio and has 47 rigs based in the Northeast region, had 29 working in Pennsylvania and Ohio as of March 30, Zellner said. Nabors Industries, one of the largest drilling contractors in the world, had only four rigs in the Northeast during that same period, she said.

Other drilling contractors that operate in the region showed similar utilization rates. SWN Drilling, which has 13 rigs marketed in the Northeast, only had six rigs working as of March 30. Precision Drilling has a fleet of 11 rigs in the region but with only six working, Zellner said.

Orion Drilling recently moved two rigs out of the region, one to the West Texas producing region, the other one to South Texas, she said.

NEARLY HALF OF US RIGS WERE OPERATING IN TEXAS

Of the 1,003 total US oil and gas rigs operating, the vast majority, 987, were drilling on land, while 12 were operating in the Gulf of Mexico and four in inland waters, according Baker Hughes.

Almost half the total number of US operating rigs, 498, were in Texas, where the Permian Basin is the hottest drilling play in the country. Oklahoma, which holds the prolific SCOOP and STACK plays, had the second-highest number of rigs, with 126, followed by New Mexico, which shares part of the Permian with Texas, at 90 rigs.

--Jim Magill, jim.magill@spglobal.com

--Edited by Valarie Jackson, newsdesk@spglobal.com



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