July 8 (Reuters) – U.S. energy firms this week added oil and
natural gas rigs for the fourth time in five weeks amid high
crude prices although the growth in rigs has been small and
crude production has been slow to recover to pre-pandemic
The oil and gas rig count, an early indicator of future
output, rose two to 752 in the week to July 8, energy services
firm Baker Hughes Co said in its closely followed report
Baker Hughes said that puts the total rig count up 273, or
57%, over this time last year.
U.S. oil rigs rose two to 597 this week, their highest since
March 2020, while gas rigs were unchanged at 153.
With oil prices up about 39% so far this year to
about $104 a barrel after soaring 55% in 2021, the total rig
count has grown for a record 23 months.
But weekly rig increases mostly have been in the single
digits as many companies focus more on returning money to
investors and paying down debt rather than boosting output.
U.S. crude oil production slid in April to 11.6 million
barrels per day (bpd), its lowest since February and still far
below its record high of 12.3 million bpd in 2019, according to
a monthly government report.
In contrast, monthly gross natural gas production rose to
107.3 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) in April, its highest
since December 2021. That compares with an all-time high of
108.2 bcfd in November 2021.
(Reporting by Scott DiSavino
Editing by Marguerita Choy)