Baker Hughes: US Oil, Gas Rig Count Up 11 to 1,010 This Week

HOUSTON (Dow Jones Newswires), Sept. 18, 2009

The number of rigs drilling for oil and natural gas in the U.S. climbed this week as producers put some rigs back to work amid expectations for higher prices.

The number of oil and gas rigs rose to 1,010, up 11 rigs from the previous week, according to data from oil-field services company Baker Hughes Inc. (BHI). The number of gas rigs was 705, an increase of six rigs from last week, while the oil rig count was 293, an increase of five 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 have scaled back natural gas drilling over the past several months amid falling prices, but the gas rig count has begun to stabilize as producers bet on a rebound in prices. Natural gas prices have fallen by more than 70% from their highs last summer above $13 a million British thermal units.

Natural gas supplies remain strong, but analysts expect the sharp decline in drilling activity over the last year will eventually bring supply back in line with demand, bolstering gas prices.

Natural gas for October delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange was recently up 19.7 cents, or 5.7%, at $3.655 a million British thermal units.

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