Baker Hughes reports that US drillers have added the largest number of gas rigs in a week since December 2018.

According to Baker Hughes Co, a provider of energy services, there has been a significant increase in natural gas rigs by U.S. energy companies this week, marking the highest increase in over four years.

This has consequently led to the combined oil and gas rig count rising for the first time in five weeks.

Baker Hughes reported that the oil and gas rig count, which serves as an initial indicator of future production, increased by eight to reach 754 in the week ending on March 17.

This marks an overall rise of 91 rigs, or 13.7%, compared to the same period last year. While oil rigs decreased by one to 589 this week, gas rigs saw an increase of nine, bringing the total to 162.

As of now, U.S. oil futures have dropped almost 17% this year, despite experiencing a 7% increase in 2022. On the other hand, U.S. gas futures have plummeted about 47% this year, after a 20% rise last year.

According to energy traders, the recent decline in energy prices has led several exploration and production companies to reduce the number of rigs they use to extract oil and gas, for three consecutive months from December to February. Despite this, the number of gas rigs has increased this week, despite some energy firms’ recent announcements about reducing the number of rigs used to extract gas, particularly in the Haynesville shale located in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas.

Despite a decrease in rig counts in recent months, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) projected that crude oil production would increase from 11.9 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2022 to 12.4 million bpd in 2023 and 12.6 million bpd in 2024. However, this is still lower than the record production of 12.3 million bpd in 2019. It’s worth noting that the EIA’s oil production forecasts for 2023 and 2024 were lower in March than they were in February.

In contrast, federal energy data from March suggested that U.S. gas production would rise from a record 98.09 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) in 2022 to 100.67 bcfd in 2023 and 101.69 bcfd in 2024. These gas production forecasts for 2023 and 2024 are higher than the EIA’s February projections.

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