Energy Rigs in U.S. Drop for Seventh Week, Baker Hughes Says

Gas and oil rigs in the U.S. dropped for the seventh straight week to the lowest level since March 2011 as energy producers curbed exploration.

Total energy rigs fell by one to 1,761, bringing the seven- week loss to 50 rigs, data posted on Baker Hughes Inc. (BHI)’s website show. Oil rigs rose by five to 1,323, the first advance since Nov. 16. The gas count declined by five to 434, the field- services company based in Houston said. Miscellaneous rigs fell by one to four.

The oil rig count has fallen every month since September as companies, responding to high crude supplies and a decline in prices, scale back their drilling programs. The gas count has shrunk to less than a third of its peak in August 2008 after a shift from dry-gas plays to more profitable liquids.

Crude for February delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange climbed 72 cents yesterday to settle at $93.82 a barrel, down 8.2 percent from a year ago.

U.S. oil output rose 17,000 barrels a day to 7 million last week, the most in almost 20 years, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Stockpiles of the feedstock climbed 0.4 percent to 361.3 million barrels in that same period. Supplies reached a 22-year high of 387.3 million barrels in June.

Natural gas for February delivery gained 8 cents to $3.193 per million British thermal units on the Nymex yesterday. Futures are up 8.6 percent from a year ago.

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