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U.S. Baker Hughes Oil, Gas Rig Count Rises to 30-Month High

Oil and natural gas rigs operating in the U.S. rose to the highest level since November 2008 as oil drilling increased amid prices near $100 a barrel, according to data published by Baker Hughes Inc.

The combined oil and gas rig count rose by five to 1,860, Baker Hughes said today on its website, below a 22-year high of 2,031 reached earlier in 2008. The increase came from Texas, North Dakota, West Virginia, Louisiana and Wyoming.

Oil rigs jumped by 15 to 984, the ninth consecutive time the count has reached the highest level since at least 1987.

Oil for July delivery fell $1.94, or 2 percent, to $93.01 a barrel, the lowest settlement price since Feb. 18 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Futures are up 21 percent in the past year and touched a two-year high of $114.83 a barrel on May 2.

Natural gas rigs dropped by nine to 870, the lowest level since May 20. Gas for July delivery fell 8.7 cents, or 2 percent, to settle at $4.325 per million British thermal units on the Nymex.

Baker Hughes also reported that miscellaneous rigs, which primarily drill for geothermal energy, slipped by one to six.

Rigs on land rose by three to 1,808. Rigs in inland waters were unchanged from the week before at 17. The Gulf of Mexico added two rigs to 35, while Canadian rigs increased by 45 to 277.

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