Texas leads the way in another rig count drop

As oil prices fell Friday, Baker Hughes reported the number of rigs actively drilling for oil in the U.S. dipped by another 10 this week.

The U.S. oil rig count now stands at 362, while the natural gas rig count declined by four rigs down to just 88. The total count of 450 rigs represents another new low in Baker Hughes’ historic count since the oil field services company first began compiling the data in 1944. The previous record before March was 488 rigs in 1999.

Texas is still home to 45 percent of the nation’s operating rigs, but the biggest losses this week came from the Lone Star State. West Texas’ Permain Basin lost two rigs for the week, although the Permian remains the nation’s most active and resilient area by far. South Texas’ Eagle Ford shale actually gained one rig.

However, the Granite Wash shale play in the Texas Panhandle lost four rigs, leaving only four active rigs in the entire shale region, according to Baker Hughes.

Analysts have projected the rig count would dip through most of the first half of 2016. The oil rig count is now down nearly 78 percent from its peak of 1,609 in October 2014 before oil prices began plummeting.

The price of the benchmark for U.S. oil was hovering just below $37 a barrel Friday afternoon, down about $1.40 for the day.

Despite the precipitous drop in the rig count, oil production is only down by 4 percent compared to 12 months ago, according to the Department of Energy. While many companies have stopped actively drilling new wells, it hasn’t stopped them from producing oil from existing wells.