UPDATE 1-U.S. oil drillers add rigs in key formations -Baker Hughes
(Adds details on Permian rigs) By Scott DiSavino June 5 (Reuters) - U.S. oil drillers boosted activity in four key basins this week, bringing the promise of additional oil to a market that faces OPEC's Friday decision to leave production caps unchanged. Oil drillers added rigs in Texas's Permian and three other U.S. shale basins, data showed on Friday, the strongest sign yet that higher crude prices are coaxing producers back to the well pad after a six-month slump in activity. Overall, however, U.S. drillers reduced the number of active rigs by four this week, oil services company Baker Hughes Inc said. It was the 26th straight weekly decline, bringing the total down to 642, the lowest since August 2010. Producers have shifted rigs to the most productive formations amid the price rout. As widely expected, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries on Friday kept its 30 million barrel per day crude production target for its 12 members unchanged in an effort to defend the group's market share. The market had been braced for the producer group's decision, which pairs with the slowly declining rig count in recent weeks to boost supply to a market that is already awash in oil. In the latest week, drillers added one oil rig in the Permian basin in West Texas and eastern New Mexico, the biggest and fastest growing U.S. shale oil basin. That brought the total there up to 232 active rigs, the same as two weeks ago. With some OPEC countries like Saudi Arabia and Iraq pumping oil at record or near record levels, the group is trying to keep crude prices low enough to support global oil demand growth while retaining market share by driving out more expensive producers. Since the number of oil rigs peaked at 1,609 in October, U.S. drillers have eliminated thousands of jobs and idled more than half of the country's active rigs as U.S. crude futures collapsed 60 percent from over $107 a barrel last June to a six-year low near $42 in March on oversupply concerns. But U.S. energy companies, including EOG Resources Inc and Pioneer Natural Resources Co, have started to return to the well pad as prices rebounded to over $60 earlier in May. Prices so far this week have averaged about $59 a barrel. Last week, U.S. crude production climbed to nearly 9.6 million barrels a day for a second week in a row, its highest level since the early 1970s, according to government data. (Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)
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