As the price WTI crude approaches $53 per barrel, the lowest level since May of 2009, rig count in the US fell sharply. For the week ending December 12, the number of oil rigs in use fell by 27 which at that time was the single biggest weekly decline in two years. The following week, the number of rigs in use fell by 18.
The silver lining in this cloud is natural gas. In a week that saw the number of oil rigs decline by 37 the number of rig drilling for natural gas actually increased by 2. The rig count in Ohio is currently 47, up from 45 a week ago and up 12 from a year ago. Next door in Pennsylvania last week's rig count decline by 1 to 54 which is 2 fewer than a year ago.
Then natural gas boom isn't going to end anytime soon. Just four years ago, Marcellus natural gas production was 2 billion cubic feet per day. Later this year, production is expected to surpass 16 billion cubic feet per day. And with recent "monster-well" announcements from Magnum Hunter Resources and Shell, experts say the Utica has the potential to be even larger. Magnum recently certified the biggest Utica well in history, which produced 46.5 thousand cubic feet per day of natural gas. And Shell's key discoveries outside of the Utica's mainstay in eastern Ohio indicate the pay zone extends much further than originally expected.