The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Industry Barometer

Jane Van Ryan

Jane Van Ryan
Posted October 22, 2009

One of the most reliable barometers of drilling activity is the Baker Hughes rig count. Since 1944, Baker Hughes, an oil services company that produces drill bits, has been issuing weekly counts of U.S. and Canadian rotary drilling rigs that are actively drilling for oil and natural gas. The weekly figures are released at noon on the last day of the work week and are regular features in many energy industry magazines and newsletters.

Last Friday, Oct. 16, the rig count in the United States totaled 1,040. Compared to the previous week, the count was down by one. In Canada last week, the rig count totaled 250, which was 11 higher than the previous week. In both cases, last week's rig counts were significantly lower than at the same time in 2008.

During the past several years, the rig count has experienced several peaks and valleys as economic conditions have changed. The highest U.S. rig count to date was 4,530 recorded on Dec. 28, 1981. The lowest U.S. rig count of 488 was recorded on April 3, 1999.