U.S. oil and natural gas producers added 21 rigs over the past week, Baker Hughes (BHI) reported Friday, March 17.
Oil producers continued bolstering production activity despite the recent week of volatility in crude oil prices. Baker Hughes said the oil rig count netted an increase of 14 rigs to 631 overall, while the natural gas rig count rose by six to 157 and one miscellaneous rig was added.
The overall U.S. rig count now sits at 789, up 313 rigs from this time last year when the count stood at 476, the Houston-based oilfield services provider said.
Oil rigs are up 244 and natural gas rigs are up 68 in the past year.
Meanwhile, the offshore rig count continues to play seesaw, dropping by one this week after adding two rigs in the previous frame. The offshore count, now at 19, is down eight rigs year-over-year.
West Texas' Permian Basin for the first time in months saw a net decrease in rigs week-over-week with the loss of one unit, while the Williston Basin of Montana and North Dakota saw the greatest activity increase, adding four rigs in the past week.
South Texas' Eagle Ford Shale also saw a modest increase of two rigs.
The massive activity ramp comes after oil prices fell off a cliff early last week, at one point settling below $48 per barrel from it's $53 a barrel mark a few days earlier.
On Friday, West Texas Intermediate crude futures were experiencing a rocky ride. The U.S. benchmark climbed back above $49 a barrel at 9 a.m. ET, but was down slightly around the time of the rig count's release
The U.S. Energy Information Agency reported on Wednesday that U.S. crude stockpiles fell by 200,000 barrels during the week ended March 10, a bullish sign for traders who have become accustom to seeing sizable stockpile increases from the U.S. Department of Energy week-after-week.
The rig count tends to lag significant movement in the price of oil by as much as a quarter, but a prolonged stay below $50 per barrel could soon give reason for many producers outside of the most lucrative U.S. plays to stall activity.
Still, many fossil fuel producers have made large acquisitions to bolster assets in those premium plays like Exxon Mobil (XOM - Get Report) , and others, such as Continental Resources (CLR - Get Report) , have vowed to ramp capital expenditures and production exponentially from their core holdings over the next year following OPEC's decision to cut production for the first half of 2017.