NEW YORK (Dow Jones), Jan. 29, 2010
The number of rigs drilling for oil and gas in the U.S. climbed this week as producers continued to ramp up output in response to relatively high prices.
The number of oil and gas rigs climbed to 1,317, up 35 from the previous week, according to data from oil-field services company Baker Hughes Inc. (BHI). The number of gas rigs was 861, an increase of 28 rigs from last week, while the oil rig count was 444, an increase of seven rigs. The number of miscellaneous rigs was unchanged at 12 rigs.
The number of gas rigs in use peaked at 1,606 in September 2008. Producers reduced natural-gas drilling sharply over the past several months in response to falling prices, but the rig count has stabilized in recent weeks as producers bet on colder winter weather and an economic recovery that would spark demand for the fuel.
A boom in gas production from shale rock formations and weak energy demand during the economic downturn drove prices for the fuel lower over the past year, although prices have more than doubled from September lows because of winter heating demand.
Gas supplies remain ample despite a recent cold spell. Total gas in U.S. storage for the week ended Jan. 22 was 2.521 trillion cubic feet, about 5% above last year's level and 3.6% above the five-year average.
Natural gas for March delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange was recently less than a penny higher at $5.142/MMBtu.
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