US drillers cut oil and gas rigs for second week in a row

*US weekly offshore rig count.

News wire — U.S. energy firms this week cut the number of oil and natural gas rigs operating for a second week in a row for the first time since mid-January, energy services firm Baker Hughes said in its closely followed report.

The oil and gas rig count, an early indicator of future output, fell by three to 621 in the week to March 28. , ,

Baker Hughes released its North American rig count a day earlie4r than usual due to the Good Friday holiday.

The total count was down 134 rigs, or 18% below this time last year, according to the company.

Baker Hughes said oil rigs fell three to 506 this week, while gas rigs were unchanged at 112, holding at their lowest since January 2022.

Drillers cut one rig in the Niobrara shale in Colorado and Wyoming, bringing the total count there down to 11, its lowest since December 2021.

The Niobrara is one of seven shale basins that the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports on in its monthly Drilling Productivity Report. The basin produces about 712,000 barrels per day, making it the fourth biggest shale oil producing region in the EIA report.

For the month, the total rig count fell by five, with the oil count rising by three, and gas down by eight, the biggest monthly decline since August.

In the first quarter, the total rig count slipped by one in its fifth quarterly loss in a row. The oil rig count rose by six, the first quarterly increase since the fourth quarter of 2022, while gas was down by eight.

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The oil and gas rig count dropped about 20% in 2023 after rising by 33% in 2022 and 67% in 2021, due to a decline in oil and gas prices, higher labor and equipment costs from soaring inflation and as companies focused on paying down debt and boosting shareholder returns instead of raising output.

U.S. oil futures were up about 15% so far in 2024 after dropping by 11% in 2023. U.S. gas futures , meanwhile, were down about 31% so far in 2024 after plunging by 44% in 2023.

Reporting by Scott DiSavino Editing by Marguerita Choy – Reuters

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