Rig count falls by four as slowdown continues

HOUSTON — Oil producers set aside four more rigs this week, as low prices continued to drag on drilling activity.

The number of active oil rigs fell by four to a total of 328, according to oil field service company Baker Hughes. Rigs seeking natural gas fell by one to 86. The U.S. combined rig count fell by five to 415, including one miscellaneous rig which was unchanged from last week.

Oil drillers have now idled roughly 80 percent of the rigs that were once active at the Oct. 10 peak in 2014. Since this same week last year, the number of oil rigs has fallen by half. The last time the oil rig count was this low was in 1995.

The combined oil and gas rig count is at its lowest level in recent records kept by Baker Hughes.

U.S. oil prices, which drive oilfield activity, rose by about 1 percent Friday to roughly $44.75 per barrel in afternoon trading. Price have been buoyed in April and early May by reports that U.S. oil production has been on the decline, in part due to the falling rig count.

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