Number of W.Va. drilling rigs down by nearly half

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — The total number of natural gas drilling rigs in West Virginia has dropped by almost half compared to a year ago, according to data released by oil and gas service giant Baker Hughes.

At the close of last week, West Virginia had 17 drilling rigs in total, with most of those clustered in North Central West Virginia and the Northern Panhandle. That’s compared to 30 drilling rigs at this time last year, according to the Baker Hughes numbers.

Last week, the state’s drilling rigs fell by two compared to the previous week’s total of 19.

Baker Hughes’s most recent rig count shows a year-over-year decline in both oil and natural gas rigs across the U.S. The total number of oil rigs has dropped to 1,056 compared to 1,423 a year ago, with the total number of natural gas rigs down from 337 last year to 300 this year.

The numbers come amid a dramatic drop in crude oil prices that began late last year. Prices for natural gas and natural gas liquids — the products extracted by local exploration and drilling firms — also sit well below where they were this time last year.

Charlie Burd, executive director of the Independent Oil & Natural Gas Association of West Virginia, said the decline in West Virginia’s rig count is a result of the current price environment in the industry.

“These wells that we’re drilling are so prolific, they’ve produced so much it’s caused quite a glut of natural gas…

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