U.S. energy firms this week added oil and natural gas rigs for a fourth week, resulting in the 13th monthly increase in a row, even as a major storm approaches the Gulf of Mexico.
The combined oil and gas rig count, an early indicator of future output, rose five in the week to Aug. 27 to 508, its highest since April 2020, energy services firm Baker Hughes Co said in its closely followed report on Friday.
The total rig count has doubled, or risen by 254 rigs, over this time last year.
For the month, drillers added 20 oil and gas rigs, putting the count up for 13 months in a row for the first time since July 2017.
U.S. oil rigs rose five to 410 this week, their highest since April 2020, while gas rigs were unchanged at 97.
In August, drillers added 25 oil rigs, the most in a month since January, putting the oil rig count up for 12 months in a row for the first time since July 2017.
The gas rig count, meanwhile, declined by six, its first monthly decline since October 2020.
U.S. crude futures gained over 10% this week to about $69 a barrel on Friday, putting the contract on track for its biggest weekly gain since June 2020 ahead of the storm.
U.S. oil and gas companies on Friday raced to complete evacuations from offshore Gulf of Mexico platforms as Tropical Storm Ida advanced toward fields that provide 17% of the nation’s oil production and about 5% of dry natural gas output. Ida is forecast to become a major hurricane by early Sunday.
Enverus, a provider of energy data with its own closely watched rig count, said there were 25 rigs running in the Gulf of Mexico, up 47% year-over-year.
Enverus said “that number is likely to temporarily dip in the next week” with the hurricane expected to hit the area, noting the most active operators in the Gulf are units of Royal Dutch Shell PLC with seven rigs, Chevron Corp with four and BP PLC with two.
Overall, Enverus said the number of active rigs increased by eight to 575 in the week to Aug. 11 with most of the increases in Appalachia in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia and the Permian in Texas and New Mexico.