Drillers added five oil rigs in the week to February 24, bringing the total count up to 602, the most rigs since October 2015, energy services firm Baker Hughes Inc said on Friday. That's almost double the lowest point after the oil market crash a few years ago.
Of the active rigs, 206 are drilling for oil; 135 for gas.
Alaska and Louisiana each lost two rigs and North Dakota declined by one. The total rig count increased by 3 to 754, with 1 miscellaneous rig remaining in use. It bottomed out in May at 404.
The investors are awaiting the decision of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) related to whether or not to abide by the agreement for cutting the oil output.
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Oil and gas rigs increased in the Permian, Eagle Ford, Cana Woodford, and Haynesville basins, and decreased in the Granite Wash and Williston basins.
After the rig-count release, West Texas Intermediate crude futures for April delivery were down by 0.8% to $54.02 per barrel, but on track for a weekly gain.
Oil rigs have increased by 125 since the OPEC agreement was announced on November 30, as USA drillers are continuing to gain as OPEC continues to hold its members largely to specified production caps.
The surge in drilling activity can be seen in the oilfield service industry.