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U.S. oil drillers cut rigs for first week in three

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Staff Writer | March 29, 2018
Oil exploration
Oil exploration   The U.S. rig count is much higher than a year ago

U.S. energy companies this week cut oil rigs for the first time in three weeks.

Drillers cut six oil rigs in the week to March 29, bringing the total count down to 798, General Electric’s Baker Hughes energy services firm said.

Baker Hughes published its North American rig count report on Thursday, one day earlier than usual, due to the Good Friday holiday on March 30.

The U.S. rig count, an early indicator of future output, is much higher than a year ago when 662 rigs were active. Energy companies have been steadily increasing spending since mid-2016 when crude prices began recovering from a two-year crash.

So far this year, the total number of oil and natural gas rigs active in the United States has averaged 966, up sharply from an average of 876 rigs in 2017 and 509 in 2016, and not far from the total of 978 in 2015. Most rigs produce both oil and gas.

EIA projected this month that average annual U.S. production will rise to a record high 10.7 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2018 and 11.3 million bpd in 2019, up from 9.3 million bpd in 2017.

The current all-time U.S. annual output peak was in 1970 at 9.6 million bpd, according to federal energy data.


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