Jan 27 (Reuters) – U.S. energy firms this week kept oil and natural gas rigs steady, energy services firm Baker Hughes Co said in its closely followed report on Friday.
The oil and gas rig count, an early indicator of future output, remains at 771 in the week to Jan. 27.
Baker Hughes said that puts the total rig count up 161 rigs, or 26%, over this time last year.
U.S. oil rigs fell by 4 to 609 this week, their lowest since October, while gas rigs rose 4 to 160, their highest since September.
For the month, total oil and gas rigs were down by 8 rigs, the biggest monthly decline since July 2020. It also put the total count down for two months in a row for the first time since July 2020.
U.S. oil futures were down about 1% so far this year after gaining about 7% in 2022.
Overall, U.S. crude production was on track to rise from 11.9 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2022 to 12.4 million bpd in 2023 and 12.8 million bpd in 2024, according to federal energy data. That compares with a record 12.3 million bpd in 2019.
Even though energy companies boosted spending in 2021 and 2022, crude output remained below 2019’s record because many firms have focused more on returning money to investors and paying down debt rather than boosting production.
Even when producers may have been looking to boost output, analysts said soaring inflation and supply disruptions in 2022 forced many energy firms to spend the extra money on more expensive equipment and rising labor costs. (Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Aurora Ellis)