Pioneer Natural Resources Co., an oil and natural gas explorer, will add five to 10 drilling rigs if crude prices rebound to $50 a barrel, said Chief Executive Officer Scott Sheffield.

West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark crude, should reach that threshold by the end of the year or in early 2017, Sheffield said at an industry conference in New York on Tuesday. Oil futures were up 3.5 percent to $41.77 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 11:40 a.m. Prices are down about 20 percent in the past year.

The number of active oil rigs in the U.S. as of April 8 declined to the lowest level since 2009, Baker Hughes Inc. data show.

Irving, Texas-based Pioneer expects "a major drop" in U.S. production in the third quarter and is not yet adding more hedges, Sheffield said.

Output from U.S. shale formations will drop to 4.84 million barrels a day in May, the lowest in almost two years, a report Monday from the Energy Information Administration showed. Still, American crude supplies probably rose last week, remaining near the highest level since 1930, a Bloomberg survey showed.

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