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Rig counts up, but still lower than last year

Rig counts year-on-year drop more than the same corresponding move in oil prices

By Daniel J. Graeber
Rig counts up, but still lower than last year
Baker Hughes finds a general increase in the number of rigs in service in North America, though numbers are still far below what they were last year. File Photo by Gary C. Caskey/UPI | License Photo

HOUSTON, Sept. 8 (UPI) -- Exploration and production activity in North America is on the rise, but still far below the levels seen last year, data from Baker Hughes show.

Baker Hughes said, internationally, the number of rigs actively engaged in exploring for or producing oil and natural gas was down one in August from the number counted in July and 200, or 17.5 percent, lower than during the same month last year.

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For North America, the oilfield services company reported an increase of 32 rigs in the United States and a gain of 35 for Canada.

Rig numbers provide a loose metric to gauge industry confidence, with gains indicating a snapshot of sorts about optimism.

Crude oil prices so far this year are up more than 60 percent from their low point below $30 per barrel this year and rig counts have generally moved in the same direction. A report this week from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas said the sentiment on the ground in Texas was that the worst was over, but recovery was still a ways off.

The U.S. rig count for August of 481 is lower than last year by 45 percent. The rig count in Canada, which this week offered a mixed picture of its economy, is off almost 40 percent year-on-year.

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For crude oil prices, the global benchmark Brent ended August 2015 at $47.97 and, despite major recovery from yearly lows, ended this August only 3.5 percent higher.

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