CHICAGO, April 5, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Zacks.com announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include: Baker Hughes Inc. (NYSE: BHI), Transocean Inc. (NYSE: RIG), Diamond Offshore (NYSE: DO), Patterson-UTI Energy (Nasdaq: PTEN) and Helmerich & Payne (NYSE: HP).
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Here are highlights from Monday's Analyst Blog:
Big Jump in U.S. Rig Count
In its weekly release, Houston-based oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc. (NYSE: BHI) reported a rise in the U.S. rig count (number of rigs searching for oil and gas in the country), primarily reflecting an increase in the tally of land rigs.
The Baker Hughes rig count, issued since 1944, acts as an important yardstick for drilling contractors such as Transocean Inc. (NYSE: RIG), Diamond Offshore (NYSE: DO), Patterson-UTI Energy (Nasdaq: PTEN) and Helmerich & Payne (NYSE: HP) in gauging the overall business environment of the oil and gas industry.
Rigs engaged in exploration and production in the U.S. totaled 1,776 for the week ended April 1, 2011. This is up by 38 from the previous week's rig count and represents the highest level since December 12, 2008.
The current nationwide rig count is more than double that of the 2009 low of 876 (set in the week ended June 12, 2009) and significantly exceeds the prior-year level of 1,465. It rose to a 22-year high in 2008, peaking to 2,031 in the weeks ending August 29 and September 12.
Rigs engaged in land operations climbed by 39 to 1,729, offshore drilling decreased by 1 to 27, while inland waters activity remained steady at 20.
Natural Gas Rig Count
The natural gas rig count increased for the second time in as many weeks to 891 (a gain of 11 rigs from the previous week). Despite the weekly improvement, the number of gas-directed rigs are down approximately 10% from the 18-month high reached during mid-August, 2010, when it hit 992, the highest since February 2009.
The current natural gas rig count remains 45% below its peak of 1,606 in late summer 2008, but has rebounded strongly after bottoming out to a 7-year low of 665 on July 17, 2009. In the year-ago period, there were 949 active natural gas rigs.
Oil Rig Count
The oil rig count was up by 26 to 877. The current tally – the highest in 23 years for a fourth week – is considerably more than the previous year's rig count of 502. It has recovered strongly from a low of 179 in June 2009, rising almost 5 times.
Miscellaneous Rig Count
The miscellaneous rig count (primarily drilling for geothermal energy), at 8, was up by 1 from the previous week.
Rig Count by Type
The number of vertical drilling rigs rose by 12 to 531, while the horizontal/directional rig count (encompassing new drilling technology that has the ability to drill and extract gas from dense rock formations, also known as shale formations) was up by 26 to 1,245.
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