The number of US oil and gas rigs in use fell again last week by 74 to 1,676, according to data from oil driller Baker Hughes.
This is the biggest weekly drop in rig use since January 2009, and the third-biggest drop since 2000.
The total number of rigs in use is now down 101 from a year ago and is at its lowest level since October 2010.
The number of oil rigs in use in the US fell by 55 last week while 19 gas rigs fell out of use. Last week, the number of oil rigs in use fell by 61 and accounted for all of the decline.
The areas that saw the biggest decline in rigs again came from Texas, as the Eagle Ford and Permian shale areas saw 12 and 15 rigs shut down last week, respectively.
As the price of oil has tumbled, this number has become more closely watched as the market looks for signs that companies are shuttering production as a result of lower prices. On Thursday night, oilfield services company Schlumberger announced that it would cut 9,000 jobs in response to the decline in oil prices.
On Friday, the price of oil was bouncing all over the place, with West Texas Intermediate crude oil trading near $US48 a barrel. Earlier this week, WTI prices broke below $US45 a barrel for the first time since April 2009.
The market’s attention is largely focused on currency markets, as the big story this week was the shocking move from the Swiss National Bank to remove its currency peg against the euro on Thursday sent currency markets into chaos.
Over the last six months, however, the big story has been oil and the knock-on effects from this plunge, including the number of oil rigs in use.
Here’s the updated chart showing the decline in combined oil and gas rigs.