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U.S. drillers add oil and gas rigs for second week in a row: Baker Hughes

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The oil and gas rig count, an early indicator of future output, rose one to 403 in the week to March 5, still its highest since May, energy services firm Baker Hughes Co said in its closely followed report on Friday.

The total rig count has increased for the past seven months after dropping to a record low of 244 in August, according to Baker Hughes data going back to 1940.

Separately, oil rigs rose one to 310 this week, their highest since May, while gas rigs were unchanged at 92.

Data and analytics firm Enverus, which publishes its own rig count, said the most-active operators as of Wednesday were EOG Resources Inc (22 rigs), Pioneer Natural Resources Co (21), Devon Energy inc (17), Occidental Petroleum Corp (15) and ConocoPhillips (14).

Enverus also said the Permian Basin in West Texas and eastern New Mexico has led the way, gaining nine rigs over the week. Pioneer boosted the number of rigs in the Permian to 21 as of March 3, its highest since April 2020, up from an average of 18 in February.

U.S. crude futures soared to over $66 a barrel this week and closed at their highest since 2019 as OPEC+ kept production cuts in place for another month. [O/R]

With prices rising, a growing number of energy firms now plan to boost spending a bit in 2021 after cutting capital expenditures over the past two years.

That spending increase, however, remains small as firms continue to focus on boosting cash flow, reducing debt and increasing shareholder returns rather than increasing output.

U.S. financial services firm Cowen & Co said the 45 independent exploration and production (E&P) companies it tracks plan to increase spending about 2% in 2021 versus 2020. That follows capex reductions of roughly 49% in 2020 and 12% in 2019.

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