The number of active oil and natural gas drilling rigs in the United States reached an all-time low on May 15th, when there were 258 oil rigs 79 gas rigs, according to Baker Hughes data. Baker Hughes has been tracking rig counts since 1987. Oil rigs saw the steepest decline, due to a sharp decrease in worldwide petroleum demand as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and record high levels of crude inventories. Declining demand also results in declining crude prices. Rig counts have historically followed change in oil prices, with a lag time of about four months, according to the EIA.
Natural gas rig counts have fallen as well, however there had been much fewer of them in service. Following the new record low of 339 on May 12th, the overall US rig count has continued to drop in recent weeks, down to 301 on May 29th. That was 683 rigs, or 69%, below May of last year and was the fourth week in a row the U.S. count fell to a fresh record low. At the beginning of 2020, there were 796 active rigs. The rig count reached peaks of over 1,000 in 2019 and nearly 2,000 in 2014.