U.S. Energy Rigs at Five-Month High, Baker Hughes Says

Rigs targeting oil and natural gas in the U.S. increased by eight this week to 1,785, according to Baker Hughes Inc. (BHI), the highest level since Aug. 16.

Oil rigs rose by six to 1,422, data posted on the company’s website show. The gas count advanced by two to 358, the Houston-based field services company said.

The total U.S. rig count has risen by 21 in the past year and the onshore well count is projected to climb by 5 percent in 2014 as producers improve drilling efficiencies in shale formations from North Dakota to Texas. The boom in shale-oil drilling has propelled U.S. crude production to the highest level in a quarter century.

“We’re bringing a lot of wells on every quarter and continue to ramp that up,” David Rosenthal, Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM)’s vice president of investor relations, said in a conference call with analysts yesterday. “We’re testing new areas, new zones.”

U.S. oil output slipped 0.1 percent to 8.04 million barrels a day last week after climbing earlier this month to the highest level since 1988, the Energy Information Administration, the Energy Department’s statistical unit, said yesterday. Crude stockpiles jumped 6.42 million barrels, or 1.8 percent, to 357.6 million.

West Texas Intermediate crude for March delivery declined 16 cents to $98.07 a barrel at 1:09 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange, up 0.6 percent in the past year.

Exxon is adding rigs in Texas’s Permian Basin, targeting conventional and unconventional liquids, and is increasing activity in North Dakota’s Bakken formation, Rosenthal said yesterday.

U.S. gas stockpiles dropped 230 billion cubic feet last week to 2.193 trillion, the EIA said. Supplies were 16.6 percent below the five-year average and 22.5 percent less than last year’s stocks for the week.

Natural gas for March delivery fell 20.7 cents, or 4.1 percent, to $4.804 per million British thermal units on the Nymex, up 44 percent from a year ago.

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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