Here comes the Baker Hughes rig count ...

The latest count of US oil and gas rigs from driller Baker Hughes is set for release at the top of the hour.

Last week, the oil rig count climbed for a second straight period, by five to 645.

It was the second back-to-back climb, preceded by 25 straight weeks of declines. And now, some in the industry think that the rig count may have bottomed, including the CEO of Schlumberger, the world’s biggest oilfield services provider.

In the second-quarter earnings statement released Thursday, Paal Kibsgaard said: “We believe that the North American rig count may now be touching the bottom, and that a slow increase in both land drilling and completion activity could occur in the second half of the year.”

Morgan Stanley had forecast, based on historical patterns, that the rig count would bottom approximately 25 weeks from when producers started taking rigs offline. We are now past that period.

Oil prices rebounded from mid-April through June and breached $US60 per barrel, a near where Morgan Stanley analysts said producers would be comfortable with ramping up production, which has remained fairly high amid the rig count plunge.

Prices have slid since then, and crude oil is headed for a third straight week of declines. Ahead of the data, West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures were near flat at around $US50.67 per barrel.

We’ll be back with the latest oil rig count data once they cross. Here’s the latest chart:

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