U.S. Energy Rigs Gain Four to 1,742, Baker Hughes Says

(Corrects gas rig move in second paragraph.)

Rigs targeting oil and natural gas in the U.S. increased by four this week to 1,742, according to Baker Hughes Inc. (BHI)

Oil rigs rose by 19 to 1,376, data posted on the company’s website show. The gas count fell 16 to 360, the Houston-based field services company said. Miscellaneous rigs rose one to six.

The total count gained for the second time in seven weeks. Rigs have fallen from 1,800 a year earlier as producers use new technologies to shorten well-boring time and boost productivity in shale formations. The improvements have driven crude output to the most in two decades, helping the U.S. meet 86 percent of its energy needs in the first seven months of 2013, on pace to be the highest annual rate since 1986.

“Technological advances have led the way to the widespread use of new oil and natural gas extraction techniques that have opened up a hydrocarbon resource base dramatically larger than previous estimates,” the Energy Information Administration, the Energy Department’s statistical arm, said in an Oct. 28 report. “Natural gas production has steadily risen, while the number of active rigs characterized as targeting natural gas has fallen dramatically.”

Natural gas for December delivery fell 5.2 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $3.529 per million British thermal units at 1:11 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange, down 4.6 percent from a year ago.

U.S. gas stockpiles rose 38 billion cubic feet in the week ended Oct. 25 to 3.779 trillion, the highest since December, the EIA said yesterday.

U.S. oil output fell 0.5 percent to 7.85 million barrels a day last week, slipping from the highest level since March 1989, data compiled by the EIA show. Crude stockpiles climbed 1.1 percent to 383.9 million barrels, the highest level for this season in at least 10 years.

West Texas Intermediate crude for December delivery declined $1.37, or 1.4 percent, to $95.01 a barrel on the Nymex, up 9.1 percent in the past year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lynn Doan in San Francisco at ldoan6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Stets at dstets@bloomberg.net

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