Rig count tumbles again

( Johnny Hanson / Chronicle )
(Johnny Hanson /Houston Chronicle)

The number of rigs drilling for oil plummeted again this week, falling by 28, the second-straight week of deep losses in the oil patch, according to Baker Hughes.

The release on Friday marks the eighth week in a row that producers pulled rigs back from the oil field. The rig count has now fallen in 22 out of the last 24 weeks, often by double digits.

The total rig count, which when including natural gas rig fell by 30, now stands at 541.

In the first month-and-a-half of 2016 alone, drillers have shut down 97 oil rigs. Nearly 60 of those rigs have fallen in just the last two weeks.

Faltering oil field activity has followed the recent plunge in oil prices. The high for West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark crude, was $36.76 on Jan. 4, already decade low. Since then, crude has fallen as low as $26.21 on Feb. 11. Following the rig count announcement, WTI jumped back up by more than $3 to $29.34 at 12:18 p.m. on Friday.

With the most still left to lose, Texas has seen the biggest drop in rigs over the last three weeks. On Friday, data showed the state saw an additional 13 rigs taken out of production, eight in the Permian Basin, bringing the total draw back in Texas rigs this year to 73. The state now has 245 rigs left, the lowest mark for Texas this century.

Oklahoma and New Mexico lost four rigs each. North Dakota saw three shut down.

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