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Baker Hughes Oil Rig Count Jumps Most in Nine Months

Aug. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Oil rigs operating in the U.S. jumped the most in nine months this week after prices climbed to a three-month high of $82.97 a barrel last week, according to data published by Baker Hughes Inc.

Rigs exploring for and producing oil climbed by 25 to 636, the highest level since January 1991.

The increase in crude drilling took the combined oil and gas rig count up 35 to 1,640, the highest level since December 2008. The biggest gain was in Texas, which had 29 more rigs, bringing its total to 720, more than any other state. The combined oil and gas rig count has dropped 19 percent since reaching a 22-year high of 2,031 in 2008.

Crude for September delivery fell 35 cents, or 0.5 percent, to settle at $75.39 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices have tumbled 7.5 percent in the past four days.

Gas rigs gained nine to 992, the highest level since Feb. 20, 2009. The gas rig count is down 38 percent from a peak of 1,606 in September 2008.

Gas for September delivery rose 3.2 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $4.328 per million British thermal units on the Nymex.

Baker Hughes also reported that miscellaneous rigs, which primarily drill for geothermal energy, gained one to 12.

After Texas, rigs increased the most in Pennsylvania, which gained four to 90. Montana added two to six, and Colorado, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada and Utah rose by one each.

California lost two rigs to 35. Alaska, North Dakota and Oklahoma each declined by one.

Rigs on land climbed by 32, or 2 percent, to 1,608, and rigs in inland waters were unchanged at 12. Offshore drilling added three to 20 rigs, echoing the gain in the Gulf of Mexico.

Canadian rigs increased by six, or 1.5 percent, to 395.

To contact the reporter on this story: Margot Habiby in Dallas at mhabiby@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Bill Banker at bbanker@bloomberg.net.

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