US Oil Drillers Idle Rigs for 21st Straight Week

US Oil Drillers Idle Rigs for 21st Straight WeekUS Oil Drillers Idle Rigs for 21st Straight Week

Oil explorers idled rigs in US fields for the 21st straight week, extending an unprecedented retreat in drilling that has curbed domestic output and helped crude prices rally, Bloomberg reported.

Rigs targeting oil in the US declined by 24 to 679, the lowest level since September 2010, Baker Hughes Inc. said in a report. Texas’s Eagle Ford formation lost the most, dropping seven to 91, the Houston-based field services company said. The Williston Basin, home of North Dakota’s prolific Bakken shale, added a rig for the first time in five months.

US energy producers have sidelined more than half of the country’s oil rigs since October, suspending production growth from the nation’s shale formations and helping end the rout in West Texas Intermediate oil prices that began last year. Crude output has fallen three out of the last five weeks. WTI futures capped their biggest monthly advance since 2009.

“If you continue to see these rig counts decline and wells not being completed, you could be losing something like 70,000 to 100,000 barrels a day every month by the end of this year,” Scott Treadwell, a TD Securities Inc. research analyst, said. “That will put a floor on WTI very quickly and the discussion when we’re short of production won’t be about storage volumes getting full. It will be about storage volumes getting emptied.”

The US benchmark West Texas Intermediate oil for June delivery dropped 48 cents to settle at $59.15 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Friday. Prices advanced 25 percent in April, the biggest monthly gain since May 2009.

Domestic oil production averaged 9.37 million barrels a day in the week ended April 24, down from the record 9.42 million reached in March, US Energy Information Administration data show. Stockpiles at Cushing, Oklahoma, the biggest US storage hub, shrank for the first time since November.