US Oil, Gas Rig Count Up 14 to 999 This Week

HOUSTON (Dow Jones Newswires), Aug. 28, 2009

The number of rigs drilling for oil and natural gas in the U.S. rose this week as producers increased drilling activity on hopes of an economic recovery that will spur energy demand.

The number of oil and gas rigs climbed to 999, up 14 from the previous week, according to data from oil-field services company Baker Hughes Inc. (BHI). The number of gas rigs was 699, an increase of four rigs from last week, while the oil rig count climbed to 286, an increase of six rigs. The number of miscellaneous rigs was 14, an increase of four rigs.

The number of gas rigs in use peaked at 1,606 in September 2008.

Producers have reined in oil and gas drilling over the past several months amid falling prices, but companies have begun putting some rigs back to work amid expectations that demand for the fuel will build. The natural gas rig count has climbed for six consecutive weeks.

Gas supplies remain ample. U.S. inventories are expected to approach maximum storage capacity before the winter. Swelling storage levels have contributed to a sharp price decline. Natural gas prices have dropped more than 75% from their highs last summer above $13/MMBtu.

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 October delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange was recently down 14.4 cents, or 4.49%, at $3.062 a million British thermal units.  

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