New York — The US oil and gas rig count climbed one to 348 in the week ended Oct. 28, rig data provider Enverus said, as gas drilling activity hit a 21-week high and the Permian Basin saw it's largest week-on-week increase dating back to before the pandemic impacted drilling.
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The number of rigs chasing primarily gas rose two to 103, the highest since the week ended June 3. In contrast, operators chasing oil idled one rig for a total 245, snapping three consecutive weekly increases.
Rig counts were mixed across the major gas plays. Haynesville operators added two rigs for a total of 40, the highest since the week ended March 25.
The Marcellus Basin rig count fell back two to 26, remaining firmly within its five-month range. Notably, the Marcellus decline was realized entirely in rigs seeking liquids, which fell three to nine. The number of gas-focused rigs in the basin climbed one to 17.
In the Utica basin, the rig count was steady at eight.
In the major named oil-focused plays, rig counts were mostly flat to higher, with the Permian a notable outlier.
The Permian Basin rig count jumped 10 to 155. It was the largest one-week increase since late February into early March, and put the number of rigs active in the basin at the highest since the week ended June 3.
The number of rigs active in the Eagle Ford basin pulled back one to 21.
Rig counts were steady in the SCOOP-STACK at 14, at 13 in the Bakken, and at six in the Denver-Julesburg basin.
Rig count totals outside the major basins fell by eight on week to 65.
Rockies gas production declines
Rockies Express west-to-east flows from the Rockies to the Upper Midwest have seen year-on-year declines this month from decreased production. The Denver-Julesburg Basin has averaged just 2.2 Bcf/d this month, down from 2.4 Bcf/d in October 2019. Total Rockies production is now down to 7.9 Bcf/d from 9.3 Bcf/d last October.
Rockies dry gas production has declined over the course of 2020 in every major basin barring the Williston. Production in the Green-River Overthrust, Denver-Julesburg, Piceance and Powder River basins is down by a combined 1.1 Bcf/d since January to average 6.4 Bcf/d in October, according to S&P Global Platts Analytics. The resilient Williston has increased by 100 MMcf/d to 2.1 Bcf/d over the same time frame.
While declining Rockies production has opened capacity along REX, its greatest effect appears to be opening the Midwest to the US Southeast corridor. Northeast production has already filled the westbound segment of the pipeline and increased flows along NGPL.
The ANR Pipeline is bearing the brunt of this loss, opening capacity on the pipeline for additional flows toward the Southeast.
This will boost Upper Midwest prices this winter as ANR is a main artery between Chicago and Henry Hub, so less gas on this pipeline is likely to boost Chicago basis, according to Platts Analytics.