U.S. oil drillers add rigs for fifth week in a row -Baker Hughes

Fri Jul 29, 2016 1:06pm EDT
 
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July 29 (Reuters) - U.S. drillers this week added oil rigs for a fifth consecutive week, Baker Hughes Inc said on Friday, but the oilfield services provider and some analysts cast doubts on a substantial recovery in drilling this year with crude prices heading for their biggest monthly loss in a year.

Drillers added three oil rigs in the week to July 29, bringing the total rig count up to 374, compared with 664 a year ago, according to the closely followed Baker Hughes weekly report. RIG-OL-USA-BHI

U.S. crude futures have slipped below $41 a barrel for the first time since April, pressured by persistently high inventories.

The market was on track for a monthly loss of about 15 percent, and is down about 20 percent from highs over $50 in early June when drillers started returning to the well pad.

"I believe oil prices in the upper $50s at a minimum are required for a sustainable recovery in North America," Baker Hughes Chief Executive Martin Craighead said on a conference call on Thursday.

Bigger rivals Schlumberger Ltd and Halliburton Co last week both said they expected a modest recovery in North American activity.

"I don't subscribe to the hopeful commentary," Craighead said.

Analysts and producers said $50 a barrel was the key level that would prompt a return to the well pad after the biggest price rout in a generation prompted a slump in the oil rig count since it peaked at 1,609 in October 2014.

Since early June when U.S. crude prices tipped above $50, drillers have added 55 oil rigs before this week.   Continued...