U.S. Rig Count Increases to 1,777, Baker Hughes Says

Rigs targeting oil and natural gas in the U.S. rose by 23 this week to 1,777, according to Baker Hughes Inc. (BHI) The gain was the largest in nine months.

Oil rigs increased 15 to 1,408, data posted on the company’s website show. The gas count advanced by eight to 365, the Houston-based field services company said. Miscellaneous rigs were unchanged at four.

Energy producers including BP Plc (BP/), ConocoPhillips (COP) and Continental Resources Inc. (CLR) are using more efficient drilling techniques in U.S. shale-oil plays to extract the most oil in 25 years. The boom in domestic output is expected to turn the U.S. into the world’s largest crude producer by 2015.

U.S. oil output rose 15,000 barrels a day to 8.16 million in the week ended Jan. 10, the most since 1988, according to the Energy Information Administration, the Energy Department’s statistical unit. Crude stockpiles declined 7.66 million to 350.2 million.

West Texas Intermediate crude for February delivery rose to $94.26 a barrel at 12:32 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange, down 1.3 percent in the past year.

U.S. gas stockpiles dropped 287 billion cubic feet last week to 2.53 trillion, the EIA said.

Natural gas for February delivery fell to $4.325 per million British thermal units on the Nymex, up 24 percent from a year ago.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dan Murtaugh in Houston at dmurtaugh@bloomberg.net

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

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