Drilling in the Barnett Shale slowed to the lowest level since at least 2002, dropping to 18 this week, down from 23 a week earlier, according to RigData.
The field's three biggest producers, Devon Energy, Chesapeake Energy and XTO Energy, between them were operating just four rigs. Nearly all the activity was in the northwestern portion of the field, which tends to produce more liquids.
Montague County was the busiest with six rigs, followed by neighboring Jack County with four and Tarrant County, which produces largely dry gas, also with four. Producers for several years have been looking for crude oil and natural gas liquids, which attract much better prices than dry natural gas.
Nationally, the rig count was unchanged from a week ago at 1,831, according to Baker Hughes Inc. Rigs seeking crude oil fell by seven to 1,510, rigs seeking natural gas were up six to 316, and rigs classed as miscellaneous were up one to five.