Baker Hughes: US Oil, Gas Rig Count Rises 23 to 943 This Week

NEW YORK (Dow Jones Newswires), Jul. 24, 2009

The number of rigs drilling for oil and natural gas in the U.S. rose this week as producers looked to signs of economic recovery despite week energy prices.

The number of oil and gas rigs climbed to 943, up 23 from the previous week, according to rig data from oil-field services company Baker Hughes Inc. The number of gas rigs was 675, an increase of 10 rigs from last week, while the oil rig count rose to 257, an increase of 13 rigs. The number of miscellaneous rigs was unchanged at 11.

The number of gas rigs in use peaked at 1,606 in September.

The Dow Jones industrial average climbed above 9,000 for the first time since January this week on positive economic data and some better-than-expected company earnings. Oil and gas producers have been looking for signs of economic recovery that could boost the demand for the fuels.

In response to falling energy prices over the past several months, producers such as Chesapeake Energy Corp. and Devon Energy Corp. have sharply reduced their spending plans and rig counts to limit the flow of new gas supplies into the market.

Natural gas prices have plunged about 75% from last summer's highs amid robust production from U.S. onshore natural gas fields and slumping demand. Large industrial consumers have curbed gas use to cut costs during the recession.

Analysts anticipate that the sharp decline in natural gas drilling activity will eventually bring supply back in line with demand and help bolster gas prices.

Gas for August delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange was recently up 12 cents, or 3.38%, at $3.67 a million British thermal units.  

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