Oil patch shifts from growth to cash flow as U.S. rig count falls

By David Wethe on 4/28/2019
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Photo: Mike Duniway, USGS.

HOUSTON (Bloomberg) -- Oil explorers idled rigs in the U.S. for a second consecutive week as operators shifted focus from production growth to cash flow.

Working oil rigs fell by 20 this week to 805, according to data released Friday by oilfield-services provider Baker Hughes, a GE company. Companies have boosted activity just twice in the past 10 weeks.

In previous booms, a 40% price bump such as has been seen this year would’ve spurred greater activity, according to Helmerich & Payne Inc., the biggest U.S. onshore rig contractor.

“Yet today, we are seeing a more tempered response and even reductions in activity by some in the industry,” CEO John Lindsay told analysts and investors during a conference call. “Clearly, customer behavior is changing and the movement is towards prioritization of cash flows and less focus on growth.”

U.S. crude production rose by 100,000 bpd last week as it returned to a record 12.2 MMbpd, according to the Energy Information Administration.

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