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The US drilling rig count is down 3 units to 1,076 rigs working for the week ended Nov. 30, according to Baker Hughes data. The count is up 147 units from the 929 rigs working this time a year ago. At 1,051 rigs working, one less unit is drilling on land week-over-week. Offshore units are down by 2 to reach 23 rigs working, while those drilling in inland waters remain unchanged at 2 rigs working for the week.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s fisheries division issued long-awaited incidental harassment authorizations to five geophysical contractors to conduct the first oil and gas seismic evaluations on the US Mid-Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf since the 1980s. Oil and gas associations welcomed the agency’s Nov. 30 move while environmental organizations strongly criticized it.

The light, sweet crude oil price for January delivery briefly slipped below $50/bbl during Nov. 30 trading before settling at nearly $51/bbl. The contract dropped to a low of $49.65/bbl during the Nov. 30 session but had recovered to climb above $50/bbl again by closing.

Qatar reported Dec. 3 it would withdraw from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries on Jan. 1, 2019, putting an end to its 57-year membership of the oil producers’ cartel. Qatar, which said it intends to focus on its natural gas production, made the announcement ahead of the Dec. 6 OPEC meeting.

Saying it is responding “to the historically high oil price differential that is costing the [Canadian] economy more than $80 million/day,” the Alberta government on Dec. 2 announced a curtailment in oil production beginning Jan. 1. It will require every operator to trim output of more than 10,000 b/d by 8.7% from its highest 6 months of production over the past 12 months.

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