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U.S. Oil Rig Count Adds 5 Last Week for Second Increase in a Row

In the week ended July 31st, the number of rigs drilling for oil in the U.S. totaled 664 compared with 659 in the prior week and 1,573 a year ago. Including 210 other rigs mostly drilling for natural gas there are a total of 1,889 working rigs in the U.S., down by 2 week-over-week, and down 1,015 year-over-year. The addition the oil rig count is the second consecutive increase. The data comes from the latest Baker Hughes Inc. (NYSE: BHI) North American Rotary Rig Count.

In July, the price WTI crude oil took bigger beating than in any month since 2008. The monthly decline totaled 21%, and Friday’s drop of 2.9% put an exclamation point on the numbers. Both Exxon Mobil and Chevron reported second-quarter results on Friday and both stocks took a nasty beating. Exxon shares dropped more than 4. 5%, set a new 52-week low, and were the worst performer among the Dow 30 stocks. Chevron’s shares tumbled nearly 5% and the company’s stock dropped more than 8% in the month of July. Chevron was the Dow’s second-worst performer on Friday.

In its position as the new global swing supplier, the U.S. must cut production to less than 9 million barrels a day to equalize the supply-demand balance according to analysts at IHS Energy. To reach that number the total rig count would have to drop to around 600 the analysts say.

U.S. refineries were running at just over 95% of capacity again last week with daily input of about 16.8 million barrels a day, 108,000 barrels a day less than the previous week. Imports dropped sharply last week to around 7.5 million barrels a day, about 400,000 barrels a day less than the prior week.

The number of rigs drilling for oil in the U.S. fell by 909 year-over-year and rose by 5 week-over-week. The natural gas rig count decreased by 7 to a total of 209. The count for natural gas rigs is down by 104 year-over-year.

Gasoline stockpiles fell by 400,000 barrels last week.

Hedge funds — under the Managed Money heading in the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s (CFTC) Commitments of Traders report — added to their long positions last week by 6,580 contracts and boosted their short positions by 14,301 contracts. The movement reflects changes as of the July 28th settlement date. Managed money holds 246,018 long positions compared with 139,552 short positions. This marks a third consecutive week that hedge funds have added more to their short positions than to their longs.

Among the producers themselves short positions outnumber longs, 331,930 to 206,398. The number of short positions last week rose by 2,860 contracts and longs added 12,801 positions. Positions among swaps dealers show 327,978 shorts versus 209,902 longs. Swaps dealers added 1,220 contracts to their long positions last week and cut 2,369 short contracts.

Kansas lost 4 rigs last week, Utah lost 3, and Pennsylvania and Alaska lost 2 each. Colorado and West Virginia each dropped 1. New Mexico added 3 rigs last week, Louisiana added 2, and North Dakota, Ohio, Texas, and Wyoming each added 1. The numbers were unchanged in Arkansas, California, and Oklahoma.

In the Permian Basin of west Texas and southeastern New Mexico the rig count rose by 3 to 248; the Eagle Ford Basin in south Texas fell by 2 rigs to finish the week with a count of 98; and the Williston Basin (Bakken) in North Dakota and Montana now has 71 working rigs, up 1 from the prior week.

Enterprise Products Partners LP (NYSE: EPD) lists a posted price of $43.57 per barrel for WTI and an August 1st price of $36.83 a barrel for North Dakota Light Sweet. The posted price for a barrel of Eagle Ford crude is $43.37. All prices are around $1 to $1.50 a barrel lower than they were a week ago, and have dropped by about $10 a barrel in the past month.

The pump price of gasoline decreased week over week. Saturday morning’s average price in the U.S. is $2.655 a gallon, down about 2.4% from $2.721 a week ago.

ALSO READ: The Most (and Least) Expensive States to Drive

By Paul Ausick