Sunday, May 10, 2009

730 US Rigs Explorinjg for Natural Gas

HOUSTON (AP) — The number of rigs actively exploring for oil and natural gas in the United States fell by 17 this week to 928, down nearly half from a year ago.

Of the rigs running nationwide, 730 were exploring for natural gas and 190 for oil, Houston-based Baker Hughes Inc. reported Friday. Eight were listed as miscellaneous.

A year ago, the rig count stood at 1,846. The U.S. count is down 54 percent since the end of August as weak energy demand has hampered oilfield activity.

Oil prices peaked at almost $150 a barrel in July before plunging. Light, sweet crude rose 65 cents to $57.36 a barrel in trading Friday on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Of the major oil- and gas-producing states, Texas lost 20 rigs, Oklahoma lost four, Colorado lost two and North Dakota lost one. California added four rigs, Louisiana added three, Alaska and Wyoming each added one while Arkansas and New Mexico were unchanged.

Baker Hughes has tracked rig counts since 1944. The tally peaked at 4,530 in 1981, during the height of the oil boom. The industry posted several record lows in 1999, bottoming out at 488.

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