Callum Turcan
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Callum Turcan in Oil & Gas Investing,

US Oil Rig Count Falls By 13

On Friday, Baker Hughes (NYSE:BHI) reported that America's oil rig count had slipped by 13, falling to 662. That is a steep drop from both the previous week and the 1,584 active oil rigs operating in the US during the same time last year. This was the first contraction in six weeks and shows that the domestic market is once again scaling back upstream operations as WTI gets settled around $45/barrel. As the summer driving season winds to a close and refineries enter maintenance season, domestic demand will shrink until next Spring, which means exports of petroleum products will be crucial in finding end consumers until then.

Natural gas wise, the rig count in America stayed flat at 202, down from 340 in the same period last year. US LNG exports are expected to start up by the end of 2015 or the beginning of 2016, which will help connect surging domestic natural gas production to major LNG importers in Europe and Asia. The first LNG facility to come online will be Cheniere Energy's (NYSEMKT:LNG) Sabine Pass facility in Louisiana, which will be closely followed by many in the industry. Being able to ship off some of America's natural gas should help revive Henry Hub [America's natural gas pricing benchmark] pricing, which is currently treading water under $3/Mcf. 

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Disclosure: Callum Turcan, the author, does not own any of the companies mentioned above. Always do your own due diligence before investing.