As OPEC gets ready to implement production cuts starting Jan. 1, 2017, U.S. oil and gas producers are preparing to boost output.
Oilfield service giant Baker Hughes (BHI) reported Friday that U.S. oil and gas producers added two oil rigs and three gas rigs in the past week, bringing the count up to 657. There are 525 U.S oil rigs operating and 132 gas rigs, the Houston-based company said.
The lucrative west Texas Permian Basin is the main area of focus for producers. For the fifth consecutive week, the area saw the another two rigs added, bringing the overall number of rigs in the region to 264 -- the most in any major domestic basin.
South Texas' Eagle Ford Basin also saw its rig count rise by two. Additional rigs were brought online in Oklahoma's Cana Woodford Shale Basin and Granite Wash Shale Basin, as well as one in the Williston Basin, which spreads across eastern Montana, western North Dakota and South Dakota.
The U.S. offshore rig count declined by two to 23 rigs after increasing by three last week.
Even though domestic producers are adding rigs, the count is below last year, when there was 536 oil rigs and 162 gas rigs. The Baker Hughes rig count is seen as an important industry barometer for drilling activity across the U.S. and North America.
The increase in rigs comes ahead of the anticipated OPEC production cuts. OPEC member nations and 11 non-OPEC producers, including Russia, agreed to curb production by about 1.8 million barrels a day for at least the first six months of 2017. For the cartel, Saudi Arabia is incurring the biggest cut, reducing production by 486,000 barrels a day. Meanwhile, Russia has promised to cut its output by 300,000 barrels a day.
Crude prices fell after the report. U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate for February delivery was down by 0.3%, trading at around $53.61, while Brent crude futures fell by 0.4% to $56.62 at 1 p.m. ET.