Oil rig count plunge returns to double-digits

The number of rigs actively drilling for oil fell by 16 this week, stretching the string of declines to more than two months, according to data Friday from oil field services firm Baker Hughes.

The total count for oil rigs operating across North America now stands at 578, down from a peak of 1,609 in October 2014. The overall rig count fell by 12 to 775, after drillers added four natural gas rigs.

The total count is now at its lowest since June 2010. This is the ninth week in a row the rig count has fallen. So far in 2015, Baker Hughes has recorded only seven week-over-week increases.

With by far the most onshore rigs left operating, Texas has seen a more dramatic pullback from the oil patch in recent weeks than other states. Seven more were shut down this week, including two rigs apiece for the Eagle Ford Shale and plays in the Permian Basin.

U.S. crude traded up slightly on the news, rising 48 cents to $46.54 in early afternoon trading.

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