Saturday, April 4, 2009

Natural Gas Rig Count UP
STAFF and Wire Report

The combined number of active oil and natural gas rigs in the U.S. rose for the first time in 19 weeks as oil-drilling operations increased for a second week, Bloomberg News reported, based on data published by oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc. of Houston.

Meanwhile, the number of rigs drilling for natural gas in the Barnett Shale in North Texas totaled 85 on Friday.

That was unchanged from a week earlier, according to information provided by RigData.

Twenty-seven wells were being drilled in Tarrant County as of Friday, up one from a week earlier.

Johnson County was close behind with 25 active rigs, down one from the previous week.

The U.S. count of rigs exploring for or producing oil or gas showed a net gain of four this week, climbing to 1,043, Baker Hughes said Friday.

Last week, the count was at its lowest level since May 9, 2003, as operators cut back because of low prices.

U.S. oil rigs increased by seven, or 3.2 percent, to 224. It was the second gain after 15 consecutive declines.

But the oil rig count is down sharply from a peak of 442 on Nov. 7.

Baker Hughes said natural gas rigs fell by two to 808, the lowest since April 25, 2003. The gas rig count has fallen for 19 consecutive weeks.

The combined oil and gas rig count rose to a 22-year high last year, peaking at 2,031 in the weeks ended Aug. 29 and Sept. 12.

Staff writer Jack Z. Smith contributed to this report, which includes material from Bloomberg News.

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