Baker Hughes: US Oil, Gas Rig Count Up 7 to 1,017 This Week

NEW YORK (Dow Jones), Sept. 25, 2009

The number of rigs drilling for oil and natural gas in the U.S. rose this week as producers restarted some rigs in anticipation of higher prices.

The number of oil and gas rigs rose to 1,017, up seven rigs from the previous week, according to data from oil-field services company Baker Hughes Inc. (BHI). The number of gas rigs was 710, an increase of five rigs from last week, while the oil rig count was 297, an increase of four rigs. The number of miscellaneous rigs fell by two rigs to 10.

The number of gas rigs in use peaked at 1,606 in September 2008. Producers have reined in natural-gas drilling dramatically over the past several months in response to declining prices, but the gas rig count has begun to stabilize as producers bet on price recovery. Natural gas prices have fallen by more than 70% from their highs last summer near $14 a million British thermal units.

But gas supplies remain abundant, with analysts expecting that storage facilities will approach full capacity -- an estimated 3.9 trillion cubic feet -- before the beginning of the winter heating season on Oct. 31. Total gas in U.S. storage as of Sept. 18 was 3.525 trillion cubic feet, 16% above the five-year average and 16.9% above last year's level.

Natural gas for October delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange was recently down 13.1 cents, or 3.31%, at $3.824 a million British thermal units.  

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