Oil rigs fall by most since 1991

HOUSTON — Producers idled the most oil rigs in a single week since 1991, as a more than 50 percent fall in crude prices further impacted drilling.

The number of rigs searching or drilling for oil fell by 61 to 1,421 while the number of rigs pursuing natural gas rose by one to 329, according to oil service company Baker Hughes’ weekly count. One miscellaneous rig was idled.

The United States total rig count fell by 61 rigs to 1,750 from 1,811 in the prior week. The total rig count —  a measure of both oil and gas rigs — declined by the largest amount since 2009.

The first week of the new year hit Texas drillers the hardest. The state’s rig count fell by 30 rigs to 810, twice as much as the week prior. Texas has seen a 10 percent loss from the high of 905 rigs in late November and now has fewer rigs drilling than the 825 the state had for the same period last year.

North Dakota lost seven rigs to a total of 162.

us rig count baker hughes

Rig counts are widely expected to fall following a more than 50 percent crash in crude prices since this summer. Producers across the industry have pared back 2015 drilling budgets — and the number of rigs they expect to have under contract — in order to shore up finances as revenue from selling crude oil falls.

Praveen Narra, an analyst with Raymond James, said that his firm expects as many 850 rigs to come off the market this year.