U.S. energy firms this week added oil and natural gas rigs for the second week in a row as relatively high oil prices encourage firms to drill more.
The oil and gas rig count, an early indicator of future output, rose two to 771 in the week to Oct. 21, its highest since March 2020, energy services firm Baker Hughes Co. said in its closely followed report.
Baker Hughes said that puts the total rig count up 229, or 42%, over this time last year.
U.S. oil rigs rose two to 612 this week, their highest since March 2020, while gas rigs were unchanged at 157.
Even as the rig count mostly increased over the past two years, weekly increases have been in the single digits for months and oil production remains below record levels seen before the pandemic as many companies focus more on returning money to investors and paying down debt rather than boosting output.
Analysts at Goldman Sachs, expect E&P companies seeking oil will boost their capital expenditures by about 22% in 2023 over 2022, while E&Ps seeking gas will boost their spending by about 14% in 2023.
Some analysts, however, said recent capital expenditure increases were not necessarily tied to boosting production but were instead related to higher prices for pipes and other equipment due to soaring inflation and supply disruption.
“We continue to see risks for additional 10%-20% inflationary pressure to capital costs heading into 2023 from a tight labor market, capital discipline from service providers [to improve returns on capital employed], and high steel/diesel prices,” Goldman said in a report this week.
Schlumberger Ltd. on Oct. 21 said revenue in North America was flat in the third quarter, compared with the prior quarter but up 37% from last year, even as the world’s largest oilfield service firm reported its strongest quarterly profit since 2015.
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