Graphic: As Oil Prices Plunge, Producers Ditch Their Rigs
As owners of gas-guzzling SUVs and trucks rejoice over rapidly declining gas prices, some of the guys who drill for the oil are starting to panic.
Just in the past couple of weeks, U.S. oil companies have shut down about 90 rigs — 61 last week, on top of 26 the week before, according to a report from Baker Hughes, an oil field service company. In some oil boom towns, the freefall in oil prices — to about $45 a barrel, from more than $100 during the summer — is starting to take a bite out of the economy in other ways, too, from less activity at bars and restaurants to a dip in real-estate prices.
The number of U.S. oil rigs reached an all-time weekly high (1,609) in October after fracking and other advances in oil extraction allowed access to previously untapped oil fields in states like North Dakota and Montana. The U.S. became the No. 1 producer of oil in the world during the summer, overtaking Saudi Arabia.
The chart below shows both the rise and fall in the number of oil rigs (land-based only) in the states that are top contributors to U.S. oil production,.