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