[Editor's note: A version of this story appears in the March 2021 issue of Oil and Gas Investor magazine.]

The energy sector remains wary following a calamitous 2020 that saw significant slowdown in drilling activity as energy prices plunged. But drillers are casting a hopeful eye toward modest recovery this year.

According to Enverus data, 2021 kicked off to a good start as the U.S. oil and gas rig count rose to 430 in the week ending Jan. 20.

Permian Basin rigs in West Texas and New Mexico rose to 194, continuing their upward trend since the August trough of 127. The largest basin’s rig count is the highest since May 2020, when the entire U.S. fleet was plunging rapidly due to low oil prices brought on by the spreading pandemic.

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