Drilling rig count climbs at fastest rate since the pandemic began

By David Wethe on 4/1/2021
Bakken drilling rig
Bakken drilling rig

HOUSTON (Bloomberg) --Oil drilling expanded in the U.S. at its fastest pace since the start of the pandemic amid rising prices and an increasingly optimistic demand outlook.

The total number of rigs searching for oil across the country rose by 13 this week to 337, the largest jump since January 2020, according to Baker Hughes data released Thursday.

Explorers are gaining confidence this year’s 25% run-up in prices is here to stay after the U.S. benchmark crude, West Texas Intermediate, averaged more than $60 a barrel in March -- the first calendar month above that threshold since May 2019.

Optimism has also been buoyed by expectations that global crude supplies won’t grow fast enough to satisfy demand as Covid-19 vaccinations proliferate and economies that shut down for the better part of a year begin reopening. Despite the recent jump, the oil rig count stands at about half of what it was when the pandemic began.

Even an agreement by OPEC and allied oil producers won’t head off that tightening of supplies, Jeff Currie, Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s head of commodities research, told Bloomberg Television.

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