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U.S. energy firms this week cut the number of oil and natural gas rigs operating for a second week in a row for the first time since mid-November, energy services firm Baker Hughes said in its closely followed report on Dec. 21.
The oil and gas rig count, an early indicator of future output, fell by three to 620 in the week to Dec. 21, the lowest since mid-November.
Baker Hughes said that put the total rig count down 159 rigs, or 20%, below this time last year.
Baker Hughes said U.S. oil rigs fell by three to 498 this week, their lowest since mid-November, while gas rigs rose by one to 120, their highest since mid-September.
Baker Hughes released the report one day ahead of its usual Friday schedule due to the upcoming Christmas holiday weekend.
Data provider Enverus, which publishes its own rig count data, said drillers added one rig in the week ended Dec. 20, boosting the total to 676. The overall count, however, remained down about 3% in the last month and down about 22% year-over-year.
U.S. oil futures were down about 7% so far this year after gaining 7% in 2022. U.S. gas futures, meanwhile, have plunged about 42% so far this year after rising about 20% last year.
Despite lower prices and lower rigs in operation, U.S. oil and gas output was on track to hit record highs in 2023 and 2024 as firms complete work on already drilled wells.
The total number of drilled but uncompleted (DUC) wells remaining dropped to a record low of 4,415 in November, according to federal energy data going back to December 2013.
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