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Baker Hughes: North America adds more rigs

Data show upstream activity increasing despite weak oil economics.

By
Daniel J. Graeber
Baker Hughes data show an increase in the number of rigs deployed across the North American energy sector. Photo by Calin Tatu/Shutterstock
Baker Hughes data show an increase in the number of rigs deployed across the North American energy sector. Photo by Calin Tatu/Shutterstock

HOUSTON, Sept. 8 (UPI) -- The number of rigs actively exploring for or producing oil and natural gas in North America increased by nearly 4 percent, Baker Hughes said Tuesday.

Baker Hughes published its rig count report for August, finding a net increase in the upstream sector in North America.

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Energy companies in the first half of 2015 unveiled cost-savings strategies as crude oil traded at a 50 percent discount from June 2014. Low crude oil prices means less capital for exploration and production, a trend data from Baker Hughes suggests may be reversing.

"The average U.S. rig count for August 2015 was 883, up 17 from the 866 counted in July 2015, and down 1,021 from the 1,904 counted in August 2014," it said. "The average Canadian rig count for August 2015 was 206, up 23 from the 183 counted in July 2015, and down 193 from the 399 counted in August 2014."

Nearly half of the onshore rig activity in the United States takes place in Texas, the No. 1 oil producer in the nation. The Railroad Commission of Texas, the state energy regulator, said crude oil production in June averaged about 2.43 million barrels per day, up from the 2.15 million bpd reported in June 2014, the third straight month for gains.

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North Dakota, the No. 2 oil producer, lost one rig from last week. Oil production in June, the last full month for which data are available, was 1.21 million bpd, just shy of the all-time record reached in December.

The Canadian economy, meanwhile, is feeling the strains of the weakening oil sector. Statistics Canada, the government's statistics office, said real gross domestic product in Canada slipped 0.2 percent in May, the fifth straight month for declines and a sign the Canadian economy is moving into formal recession.

Despite the suppressed market, two companies -- Husky Energy and ConocoPhillips -- announced the start of new oil operations in Canadian oil sands last week.

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