July 7, 2017 / 5:10 PM / in a year

U.S. drillers add oil rigs, pace remains slow -Baker Hughes

    July 7 (Reuters) - U.S. energy firms added oil rigs for a
24th week in the past 25 as the year-long drilling recovery
continues but the pace of additions has slowed in recent months
as crude prices declined despite OPEC-led efforts to end a
global supply glut.
    Drillers added seven oil rigs in the week to July 7,
bringing the total count up to 763, the most since April 2015,
Baker Hughes energy services company          said in its
closely followed report on Friday. RIG-OL-USA-BHI 
    That compares with 351 active oil rigs during the same week
a year ago. Drillers have added rigs in 54 of the past 58 weeks
since the start of June 2016.
    The pace of those additions, however, has slowed over the
past few months with the decline in crude prices with the total
added over the past four weeks holding at six the lowest since
     U.S. crude futures        were trading around $44 per
barrel on Friday, putting the contract on track to fall for a
sixth week in the past seven, on data showing U.S. output
continues to rise, frustrating efforts by OPEC and other
producers to curb global oversupply.      
    After agreeing in December to cut production by around 1.8
million barrels per day (bpd) for six months from January-June
2017, OPEC and other producers in late May agreed to extend
those cuts for another nine months through the end of March
    U.S. oil production C-OUT-T-EIA rose 1 percent to 9.3
million bpd last week, correcting a drop in the previous week
that was due to one-off maintenance work and hurricane
    Analysts said U.S. shale companies would continue to drill
for more oil so long as crude prices are expected to rise in
future months.
    Futures for the balance of 2017           were trading at
about $44.50 a barrel, while calendar 2018           was
fetching over $46 a barrel.
    Analysts at Simmons & Co, energy specialists at U.S.
investment bank Piper Jaffray, forecast the total oil and gas
rig count would average 887 in 2017, 1,108 in 2018 and 1,219 in
2019. Most wells produce both oil and gas.
    That compares with an average of 824 so far in 2017, 509 in
2016 and 978 in 2015. If correct, Simmons' 2019 forecast would
be the most since 2014 when there were 1,862 active rigs. The
rig count peaked in 2012 at 1,919, according to Baker Hughes.

 (Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Marguerita Choy)
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