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Well Servicing Rig Count Continues to Rise in May

May rig count

Active well service rigs rose by 1.5% in May 2021 to reach 950 rigs, the highest total since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, according to data collected by the Energy Workforce & Technology Council.

While the active well service rig count has more than doubled since a pandemic-low of 456 in April 2020, the number remains 9.2% below the February 2020 total of 1,046 rigs. In May, the sector added 19 rigs in the West Texas/Permian area, eight in the West Coast/Alaska region, and four in the Mid-Continent.

The rig utilization rate ticked up from 37% in April to 39% in May, a dramatic increase from pandemic-lows of 17% in April and May of 2020, though still below pre-pandemic norms of around 45%.

The monthly rig count, first published in 1970, is compiled from data submitted by oil and gas production and servicing companies throughout North America. Followed closely by well servicing contractors, government agencies, financial institutions, and market analysts, the report is a key indicator of oil and gas production.

Its findings echo those of the Council’s monthly, which shows the oilfield services and equipment sector has lost approximately 83,000 jobs since the beginning of the pandemic.

The rig count report includes four status categories for rigs:

  • Active — Crewed and worked every day during the month.
  • Available — A rig that has a crew and is ready to work but is not working.
  • Idle — A rig that’s available for work in less than 48 hours, does not require spending of more than $50,000 to activate, and does not have a crew currently assigned.
  • Stacked — A rig that does not have a crew assigned and could not be put to work without repairs and additional equipment costing more than $50,000.

To become involved in the rig count, contact Council Administrative Assistant Susan Dudley for more information.


Kevin Broom, Director Communications and Research, writes about the Council’s sector-specific research, best practices and leadership. Click here to subscribe to the Council’s newsletter, which highlights industry practices, workforce development, Council activities and more.
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