(Adds details, oil prices)
By David Gaffen
April 13 U.S. drillers added oil rigs for a 13th
week in a row, with the number of active rigs rising to near a
two-year high, as energy companies boost spending on new
production to take advantage of a recovery in crude prices.
Drillers added 11 oil rigs in the week to April 13, bringing
the total count to 683, the highest since April 2015, energy
services firm Baker Hughes Inc said on Thursday.
At this time a year ago, there were 351 active oil rigs.
Much of the weekly gain can be attributed to Texas's Permian
basin, which added eight rigs on the week. There are 339 active
rigs in the Permian, located largely in the western part of
Texas, 200 more than at this time last year.
U.S. crude futures were little changed on Thursday,
and did not react much to the rig count figures. U.S. West Texas
Intermediate was at $53.02 a barrel, down 9 cents, as of 1:24
p.m. EDT (1724 GMT).
Even as the world's major oil producing nations have
attempted to reduce crude supply, U.S. inventories are at
near-record highs at 533.4 million barrels. Overall domestic
production has continued to climb, meanwhile, hitting 9.24
million barrels per day last week, according to the U.S. Energy
The EIA had projected a 9.22 million bpd production rate for
2017 and expects production to hit a record 9.9 million bpd in
Analysts see U.S. energy firms boosting spending on drilling
and pumping more oil and natural gas from shale fields in coming
years with energy prices expected to climb.
That has unnerved the Organization of the Petroleum
Exporting Countries, which is trying to reduce a glut that has
persisted for about three years.
Futures for the balance of 2017 and calendar 2018
trade at around $54 a barrel, indicating expectations
for stable prices going forward.
(Reporting by David Gaffen; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)