Baker Hughes announced that there were currently 675 exploratory rigs in the country looking for oil, and 202 that were on the hunt for natural gas. Last year, when oil prices were nearly twice what they are today, there were 1,914 active rigs in the country.
Only the top oil-producing state was spared from the decline this week. Texas gained three rigs, while Louisiana lost six, New Mexico lost two, and Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Oklahoma each lost one. Alaska, Arkansas, California, Kansas, North Dakota, Ohio, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming's rig counts all remained unchanged.
Baker Hughes has been counting rotary rigs since 1944, and has proved a valuable service in the oil industry. The company got their start in Canada counting drilling activity of American and Canadian drilling activity. It began issuing a monthly international rig count in 1975, although it excludes rigs located in Russia and onshore China from the final tally.
The North American rig count is released every Friday at 12pm CST, and the international count is released on the fifth working day of every month. It is a safe bet that weak oil prices are keeping rig numbers from growing, and oil producers will need a higher price to incentivize further drilling in many American oilfields.