​U.S. rig fleet expands most in 10 months as crude surges

Explorers deployed more drilling rigs across U.S. oil fields this week as crude prices pushed to levels not seen in more than three years.

Working rigs drilling for American crude rose by 12 this week, bringing the total up to 759, according to Baker Hughes data released Friday. It was the biggest increase in 10 months.

Helmerich & Payne Inc., the biggest U.S. rig contractor by market value, said this week it’s reasonable to expect the rig tally to increase by 100 to 200 rigs this year thanks to the improving outlook for oil prices.

“Oil prices have probably exceeded everyone’s expectations this early in 2018,” Helmerich Chief Executive Officer John Lindsay told analysts and investors on a Jan. 25 conference call. “If we’re looking at a $60 or $65 oil price going forward, I think we can logically expect to see customers pick some rigs up.”

West Texas Intermediate crude, the U.S. benchmark, has risen more than 4 percent this week and is on course for its best January performance in 12 years.

© 2018 Bloomberg L.P