Producers were operating the fewest oil and natural gas drilling rigs on record in the United State at 339 on May 12, the lowest level in the Baker Hughes Company's rig count data series that dates back to 1987. The number of active rigs began sharply decreasing in mid-March as crude oil prices fell: rigs have fallen by 56% (433 rigs) since March 17. Most of the decrease was in oil-focused geologic plays, but natural gas-focused plays also saw significant decreases.
Since March 17, 71% (308 rigs) of the rigs taken out of service were in the top three U.S. crude oil-producing regions: the Permian region in southeastern New Mexico and western Texas, the Eagle Ford region in southern Texas, and the Bakken region in Montana and North Dakota. Drilling in oil-focused plays has declined as the impact of mitigation efforts for the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) have caused declines in petroleum demand and the resulting fall in crude oil prices. In mid-March, the Permian region had 405 operating rigs. By May 12, that number had fallen by 57% to 175 rigs. The Eagle Ford and Bakken regions saw similar declines in their rig counts, of 64% and 69%, respectively, in that time.