Permian Basin leads big jump in rig count

A worker waits to connect a drill bit on Endeavor Energy Resources's Big Dog Drilling Rig 22 in the Permian basin outside of Midland, Texas, on Dec. 12, 2014. (MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Brittany Sowacke)
A worker waits to connect a drill bit on a rig in the Permian basin outside of Midland, Texas, in 2014. (Bloomberg photo by Brittany Sowacke)

The nation’s oil rig count during the past week saw its biggest jump of the year, and nearly all of the growth came in West Texas’ resilient Permian Basin.

The number of rigs actively drilling for oil increased by 15, including 12 just in the Permian, while the number of rigs primarily seeking natural gas grew by two.

The total rig count is now at 481 rigs, up from an all-time low of 404 rigs in May, according to data from the Baker Hughes oil field services firm. Of the total tally, 396 of them are primarily drilling for oil.

The Permian now accounts for 189 rigs, which equates to 48 percent of all the nation’s oil rigs. The next most active area is Texas’ Eagle Ford shale with just 36 rigs, according to the Baker Hughes data. The Eagle Ford counted more than 100 rigs this time a year ago.

Despite this week’s jump, the oil rig count is down 75 percent from its peak of 1,609 in October 2014, before oil prices began plummeting.

After dipping below $40 a barrel early last week, the price of crude oil has since rebounded to more than $44 a barrel on Friday. The price of U.S. oil hit a low $26.21 on Feb. 11.