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U.S. oil and gas rig usage change due to oil crisis 2019-2020

The number of operational U.S. oil and gas rigs totaled 296 in the last week of October 2020. Figures had decreased to a low of 251 units by the end of July 2020. This was a decline of over 500 units compared to February and a direct result of the oil crisis and falling oil prices, which have resulted from lower fuel demand during the coronavirus pandemic.

Most common rig types

Oil rigs are the most common rig type in the U.S. In 2019, over 670 oil wells were drilled in the country, compared with just 125 gas wells. This discrepancy has been exacerbated over the years, with there being a less pronounced difference in 2011. 2011 was also the year when new well drilling numbers peaked within the past decade, with roughly 2,000 newly bored oil and gas extraction sites. The majority of oil rigs are found in the Permian Basin. Located primarily in Texas and parts of New Mexico, the Permian Basin has been a harvesting ground for the liquid gold since the early 1920s and since established itself as the most productive U.S. oil basin.

Future U.S. oil production

A January 2020 forecast sees U.S. shale gas and tight oil production reach over 35 trillion cubic feet by 2050. However, as these forecasts were made before the global repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic started becoming evident, the next edition may likely see this forecast revised down.

Number of United States oil and gas rigs in operation at the end of each month from December 2019 to October 2020

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Release date

November 2020


United States

Survey time period

December 2019 to October 2020

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