Baker Hughes: U.S. Oil, Gas Rig Count Up 2 to 968 This Week

NEW YORK (Dow Jones Newswires), Aug. 14, 2009

The number of rigs drilling for natural gas in the U.S. rose slightly this week as producers continued to increase drilling activity in the hope of an economic recovery that could drive up energy demand.

The number of oil and gas rigs climbed to 968, up two from the previous week, according to rig data from oil-field services company Baker Hughes Inc. The number of gas rigs was 688, an increase of seven rigs from last week, while the oil rig count slipped to 272, a decrease of five rigs. The number of miscellaneous rigs was unchanged at eight.

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

Producers have reined in oil and gas drilling over the past several months amid falling prices, but companies are beginning to bring gas rigs back on line amid signs that the economy is stabilizing. Gas supplies remain ample, however, with U.S. inventories expected to approach maximum storage capacity before the winter.

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

Gas for September delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange was recently down 4.4 cents, or 1.32%, at $3.292 a million British thermal units.  

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