Permian Basin Drilling Shows New Signs of Life Amid Latest Coronavirus Surge

Permian Basin oilfields in Texas and New Mexico are showing new signs of life as the energy industry continues its tentative recovery amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

According to data from Baker Hughes, a total of 53 drilling rigs were operating on the New Mexico side of the Permian Basin as of November 13th, up from 50 the previous week. The number of operating rigs on the Texas side had grown to 142, after averaging 122 in October.

Eddy County, New Mexico, remained the most active county in the Permian with 27 rigs. Lea County, New Mexico, followed with 25. Twenty rigs were operating in Midland County, Texas, followed by Martin County with 16. Howard County and Reeves County each reported 12 rigs.

Permian Basin Oilfield Recovery Driven by Positive Vaccine News

Thousands of Permian Basin oilfield workers were laid off earlier this year, as states and communities across the country instituted strict lockdowns and stay-at-home orders in a bid to slow the transmission of COVID-19. In April, falling global demand pushed the price of West Texas crude into negative territory for the first time in history.

Although the novel coronavirus has surged once again in recent weeks, the price of oil recently rose above $40.00 per barrel for the first time this fall. Positive data on coronavirus vaccines from Pfizer, Inc., and Moderna has helped to rally the energy market.

On November 10th, Arlington, Texas-based U.S. Energy Development Corporation announced a partnership with ExxonMobil subsidiary XTO Energy to develop an area in Eddy County for horizontal drilling in the Wolfcamp Shale. Drilling is already underway, with production expected in early 2021.

Midland Basin operator Endeavor added three active rigs in the last month, bringing its total to five. Mewbourne Oil has added two rigs in Midland basin in the last month, returning to an activity level not seen since April. Occidental and Parsley Energy also each added two Permian basin rigs over the past month.

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