Shale gas rigs in Louisiana returning to pre-pandemic numbers

Austin Chalk

Oil and gas companies across the country are slowly deploying more shale natural gas rigs as the economy recovers from the 2020 recession, but shale rig numbers in Louisiana are already close to pre-pandemic levels as oil prices continue to rise.

Louisiana now has almost 50 rigs in the Haynesville Shale play, the only major shale natural gas play in the state, says Mike Moncla, Louisiana Oil and Gas Association president. Although that number fell for a period during the pandemic, activity is back on the rise.

The good news isn’t universal, however, as Moncla says there are still 300 fewer rigs operating across the rest of the U.S. than two or three years ago.

Shale natural gas production across the rest of the country has also remained far below pre-pandemic numbers, according to Axios, and research predicts production will continue to recover at a “modest” rate.

Moncla says many operators outside of Louisiana got into debt earlier in the pandemic and are now choosing to pay back dividends instead of putting more drills in the ground.