Drillers idle 26 more oil rigs for ninth straight week of decline


HOUSTON -- Drillers in the U.S. pulled 26 oil-directed rigs from the field this week as the count declined for the ninth straight week.

Baker Hughes reported 514 rigs turning to the right on Friday. Of these, 413 were seeking oil and 101 were seeking natural gas.

The news comes after a number of producers, including Saudi Arabia and Russia, agreed to freeze, but not cut, oil production. And U.S. crude stockpiles expanded to 504.1 MMbbl, which represents the highest level in data going back to 1930.

The U.S. oil rig count hasn’t been this low since December 2009, although the number of rigs seeking gas was far greater at that time.

The last time the total rig count was this low was in 1999, when, on May 14, the company reported just 507 active rigs. The rig count had bottomed out a few weeks earlier, on April 23, when just 488 rigs were reported to be in operation.

This week, the Permian basin saw six oil rigs stacked, while the Eagle Ford and Williston basin lost four and three rigs, respectively. The total number of gas-directed rigs was little changed, with drillers idling just one rig.

More than 120 oil rigs have now been idled since the end of last year when Baker Hughes reported 536 oil-directed rigs. 

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