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Natural Gas Rig Count in U.S. Drops to 350, Baker Hughes Says

The number of gas rigs in the U.S. declined by four this week to 350, according to Baker Hughes Inc. It’s the lowest total since June 1995.

Oil rigs rose by nine to 1,412, data posted on the company’s website show. Total energy rigs rose by five to 1,769, the Houston-based field-services company said.

The number of rigs targeting gas in the U.S. has declined for six straight quarters after a combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing triggered a surge in output, driving gas futures last year to the lowest in a decade. The price drop has prompted producers to switch to more lucrative crude and natural-gas liquids plays.

Natural gas for June delivery fell 5.6 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $3.927 per million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 1:10 p.m. Futures are up 58 percent from a year ago.

U.S. gas stockpiles rose 88 billion cubic feet to 1.865 trillion in the week ended May 3, above the five-year average gain for that period of 69 billion, the Energy Information Administration, the Energy Department’s statistical arm, said yesterday.

U.S. oil output climbed 0.8 percent to 7.37 million barrels a day last week, EIA data show. Production reached a two-decade high of 7.33 million barrels a day on April 19. Stockpiles rose 0.1 percent to 395.5 million barrels, the highest in more than 82 years.

Crude for June delivery on the Nymex dropped $1.75, or 1.8 percent, to $94.64 a barrel. The price is down 2.5 percent in the past year.

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