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US onshore rig count sticks to rising path

Operators continued to put rigs back to work in the onshore US sector in the latest week, adding to a streak of gains that has stretched virtually unabated for almost a year, writes Noah Brenner.

Onshore drillers added 15 rigs in the week to 7 April, bringing the total onshore count to 813 units, according to the latest figures from US services giant Baker Hughes.

The total is an increase of 399 rigs compared with this period a year ago.

The additions were split between 10 rigs chasing oil plays, bringing the total oil rig count up to 672, and five rigs in natural gas plays, for a total gas rig count of 165.

Texas once again saw the biggest gains, adding seven rigs for a total of 418. The gains were reflected in the Permian basin in particular, which saw an increase of 12 rigs. New Mexico, which is home to the western part of the basin, added a single rig to total 51.

Elsewhere in Texas, the Eagle Ford shale lost one rig and the Granite Wash play, which straddles the state's border with Oklahoma, dropped four rigs.

However, Oklahoma gained two units in the Mississippian play, two in the Cana Woodford, and one in the Arkoma Woodford. Overall, the state added four rigs for 122.

West Virginia added a single rig to total 12. The gain was mirrored in the Marcellus shale play, which also added one.

The western state of Wyoming added two rigs, and the US Gulf coast state of Louisiana added one, for respective totals of 18 and 60. Alaska lost one rig for seven.

Not surprisingly, the surging rig count has led to a significant increase in the number of wells drilled so far this year, according to a report from the American Petroleum Institute (API).

Well completions in the first quarter were up 35% from the same period a year ago after falling by 59% in the first quarter of 2016 compared with first-quarter 2015 levels, the API said.