Rigs in the U.S. totaled 1713, up by 26 rigs from the previous week's rig count, according to a weekly rig count released Friday by Houston-based oil service company Baker Hughes Inc..
Of the total, 961 rigs were exploring for and 742 for oil, with another 10 rigs listed as miscellaneous, according to the release. The figure represents the highest level this year.
A year ago this week, the rig count stood at 1,141.
The Baker Hughes rig counts, issued since 1944, are an important business barometer for the drilling industry and its suppliers. The counts act as an important yardstick for drilling companies in gauging the overall business environment of the industry.
The U.S. rig count peaked at 4,530 in 1981 as the result of the oil boom. It plummeted to a record low of 488 in 1999.