CHICAGO, Feb. 23, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Zacks.com Analyst Blog features Baker Hughes Inc. (NYSE: BHI), Pride International (NYSE: PDE), Nabors Industries (NYSE: NBR), Patterson-UTI Energy (Nasdaq: PTEN) and Helmerich & Payne (NYSE: HP).
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Here are highlights from Tuesday's Analyst Blog:
U.S. Rig Count Edges Down
In its weekly release, Houston-based oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc. (NYSE: BHI) reported a fall in the U.S. rig count (number of rigs searching for oil and gas in the country), primarily reflecting a decrease in the number of land rigs.
The Baker Hughes rig count, issued since 1944, acts as an important yardstick for drilling contractors such as Pride International (NYSE: PDE), Nabors Industries (NYSE: NBR), 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 1,713 for the week ended February 18, 2011. This is down by 8 from the previous week's rig count and represents the second decline in as many weeks.
Despite this, the current nationwide rig count is 96% higher than the 2009 low of 876 (set in the week ended June 12, 2009) and significantly exceeds the prior-year level of 1,345. 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 descended by 7 rigs to 1,672, offshore decreased by 1 rig to 25, while inland waters drilling activity remained steady at 16 rigs.
Natural Gas Rig Count
The natural gas rig count decreased for the third successive week to 905 (a loss of 1 rig from the previous week). As a result of the decline, the number of gas-directed rigs are now down approximately 9% 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 44% 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 893 active natural gas rigs.
Oil Rig Count
The oil rig count was down by 7 to 798, the second decline in 7 weeks. Despite this week-over-week fall, the current tally is considerably more than the previous year's rig count of 440. It has recovered strongly from a low of 179 in June 2009, rising almost 4.5 times.
Miscellaneous Rig Count
The miscellaneous rig count (primarily drilling for geothermal energy) at 10 remained unchanged from the previous week.
Rig Count by Type
The number of vertical drilling rigs fell by 10 to 506, 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 2 to 1,207.
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