For the eighth straight week, U.S. oil producers ramped up drilling activity, focusing their energy on the lucrative Permian Basin as oil prices have become more stable since the OPEC agreement to curb production.
Houston-based Baker Hughes (BHI) said the overall U.S. rig count now stands at 652, with oil rigs climbing 13 to 523, which is just 15 rigs shy of the count a year ago. Natural gas rigs rose by three to 129.
For the fourth consecutive week, the Permian Basin saw the biggest activity uptick, with four rigs added. That brings the overall number of rigs in the lucrative west Texas region to 262 -- the most in any major domestic basin.
A handful of other U.S. shale basins saw additional rigs brought online this past week, with Oklahoma's Cana Woodford Shale Basin having the second largest rig increase with two.
U.S. offshore rigs increased by three the past week, surpassing last year's rig count by one.
Baker Hughes' rig count is down 48 from last year's count of 700, with oil rigs down 15, gas rigs down 33 and miscellaneous rigs up 1.
Meanwhile, the Canadian rig count is down 13 rigs from last week to 219, with oil rigs down 10 to 106, gas rigs lower by three to 113, and miscellaneous rigs up three to five.
Following the rig count report, oil prices were rebounding. U.S. Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude for February delivery was up by about 0.2% to $53.08 a barrel, meanwhile Brent Crude futures were rising by 0.3% to $55.22 per barrel shortly around 1:30 p.m. ET.
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