Baker Hughes Reports U.S. Oil Producers Ramp Activity Despite OPEC Concerns

Four days after the company announced it will join forces with General Electric (GE) to create an oilfield services superpower, Baker Hughes (BHI) reported oil and gas drillers have put online 12 rigs in the past week. 

The Houston oilfield services provider said Friday, Nov. 4, the overall count was up to 569, as 9 oil rigs came online and 3 natural gas rigs were added in U.S. shale plays. 

The U.S. oil rig count now stands at 450, while the gas rig count stands at 117. 

Baker Hughes' oil rig count addition comes one week after the first oil rig drop in about four months. Last week oil drillers took two rigs offline, but the count was propped up by the addition of six natural gas rigs. 

Minor movements in the U.S. rig count are unlikely to affect stock prices on an intraday trading basis, but heading into the last leg of 2016 the count is an important indicator of demand for oilfield services during a period where providers continue to face pricing pressures and tepid customer sentiment.

The count also gauges what U.S. shale producers are doing in the face of a continued global supply uncertainty. The U.S. Energy Information Agency reported earlier this week that domestic crude oil inventories surged by a record 14.4 million barrels in the week ending Oct. 28. 

The supply data, coupled with continued speculation over whether the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC, will come to an agreement on production cuts later this month, has forced U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures down from above $50 early last week to below $44 per barrel at 1 p.m. Friday.

Meanwhile, global benchmark Brent crude futures remained volatile-- down about 1.8% to $45.51 per barrel around 1 p.m ET --after reports surfaced Friday claiming Saudi Arabia has denied that Iran threatened to raise oil production at the OPEC members' latest meeting.

Despite the uptick in activity, oilfield services stocks were a mixed bag on the S&P 500 Friday.

National Oilwell Varco (NOV) led the retreat with a 1% drop by 1 p.m. ET, while FMC Technologies (FTI) was on its heels. 

Industry leaders Schlumberger (SLB) and Halliburton (HAL) were trading relatively flat to slightly in the red Friday afternoon, while Baker Hughes' stock continued to feel the market's approval of its tie-up with GE's oil and gas unit, as shares were up close to 5% around 1 p.m.

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All told, Baker Hughes' U.S. rig count is down by 202 from last year's count of 771, with oil rigs down 122, gas rigs down 82, and miscellaneous rigs up two.

The U.S. offshore rig count is down once again to 21, a one-rig drop from last week, and an 11-rig decline year-over-year. 

Meanwhile, the Canadian rig count climbed this week, adding one rig to last week's count, to 154. Canadian oil rigs were up by three week-over-week to 76, while the number of gas rigs fell by two to 77.

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