Hammered for the 12th Week

2015-0303 Hammered for the 12th Week

Photographer: Brittany Sowacke

U.S. oil rigs declined for the 12th straight week despite still-rising levels of production.

Drillers idled 33 oil rigs (excluding gas rigs), dropping the number to 986, Baker Hughes reported on Friday. The rig count is down 39 percent since October, an unprecedented retreat. The median forecast from a Bloomberg survey of 38  #RigCountGuesses on Twitter was for a decline of 35.

The Baker Hughes rig count has been around since 1944, but only since the price crash last year has it has emerged as a widely popular, though controversial, signal for U.S. oil watchers. Rigs are used to explore for new deposits and to drill new wells. The theory goes that when oil rigs decline, fewer wells are drilled, less new oil is discovered, and oil production slows. That would be good news for investors hoping for a rise in crude prices after the oil crash.

But production isn’t slowing yet, and new efficiencies in U.S. drilling and pumping may make raw numbers of rigs in the field misleading. The U.S. will pump 9.3 million barrels a day this year, the most since 1972, despite the fewest rigs in the field in almost four years, according to the Energy Information Administration.

(Source: Bloomberg.com)

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