Permian Basin again drives rig count growth

West Texas’ Permian Basin again led the growth of the nation’s drilling rig activity, with Texas and New Mexico each adding three more rigs to oil fields. The Permian extends into southeastern New Mexico.

The total rig count started 2017 by tacking on seven more rigs nationwide — four primarily seeking oil and three drilling for gas — with oil prices now hovering near $54 a barrel in the U.S. The growing Permian activity accounts for more than half of all the nation’s active oil rigs with 267 rigs drilling in the basin, according to weekly data collected by the Houston-based Baker Hughes oilfield services firm.

However, the Granite Wash basin in the Texas Panhandle and Oklahoma lost five rigs, keeping the total rig count from growing more.

The Gulf of Mexico added one offshore rig, while Louisiana represented two of the three gas rigs brought on thanks to more activity in the Haynesville Shale.

The total rig count is now at 665 rigs, up from an all-time low of 404 rigs in May, according to Baker Hughes. Of the total tally, 529 of them are primarily drilling for oil.

After the Permian, the next most active area is Texas’ Eagle Ford shale with just 47 rigs.

Despite this week’s jump, the oil rig count is down 67 percent from its peak of 1,609 in October 2014, before oil prices began plummeting. The price of U.S. oil hit a low $26.21 on Feb. 11 before beginning to rebound.