Baker Hughes Rig Activity Falls

Baker Hughes Inc. said the number of drilling rigs actively exploring or developing oil fell in May from April and also from a year earlier. 

The oilfield-services company said the worldwide rig count fell in May to 3,178 from 3,209 in April, and down from the 3,335 counted in May 2012. 

The international rig count in May fell to 1,283 from 1,301 in April, but was up from 1,225 a year earlier. 

Meanwhile, the average U.S. rig count for May was 1,767, up from the 1,755 counted in April, but down from the 1,977 counted a year ago. 

Baker Hughes reported the international offshore rig count for May was 327, down from the 331 counted in April, although up slightly from the 319 in May of last year. 

An overproduction of natural gas has resulted in low prices and pushed energy companies to shift their operations to oil-rich shale, a transition that has resulted in inefficiencies and higher costs for oil-field service providers as they haul their crews to new, harder-to-tap fields. The transition has weighed on Baker Hughes's pressure-pumping business. 

In April, Baker Hughes posted a first-quarter profit that was down 30% from a year earlier as the oilfield services company reported lower revenue from its key North America segment, although results beat Street views. 

Shares closed Thursday at $45.62 and were inactive in recent premarket trading. The stock has risen 14% in the past 12 months.

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.


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