US Shale Rigs Near Record Low

US Shale Rigs Near Record LowUS Shale Rigs Near Record Low

The relentless idling of US oil and gas rigs is approaching a historical low as shale drillers struggle to stay afloat in a deepening downturn.

A price crash caused by a global oversupply of fossil fuels has caused companies to lay off workers and scrape as much spending as possible from their budgets.

The number of rigs has plunged 75% since September 2014 and has not risen for a single week since August of last year, according to Baker Hughes Inc. data, Bloomberg reported.

With 489 active rigs this week, the industry is near the lowest level in records dating to 1949, set in April 1999 at 488.

“Each active rig is the result of a decision to employ capital in the industry, and the current lack of drilling indicates a strong drive to conserve cash,” Paul Hornsell, head of commodities research for Standard Chartered Bank, said in a research note this week.

Rigs targeting oil fell by eight to 392, led by losses in the Permian Basin, the largest US shale play. Six rigs were parked there, lowering the total to 156.

North Dakota’s Williston Basin lost three oil rigs to 33. Rigs seeking natural gas fell by 5 to 97, Baker Hughes said.

There’s one place in the US where the shale boom has not gone bust: The Cana-Woodford shale in western Oklahoma’s Anadarko Basin. Oil rigs rose by five there to 37, the highest level since August.