Oil rigs rise by one, ending months-long slide

HOUSTON — U.S. oil drillers added one rig back to a desolate oil patch this week, according to the latest Baker Hughes rig count.

The number of oil rigs chasing crude rose by one to 387 in the week ending March 18. Rigs drilling for natural gas fell by five to 89. Combined, the rig count fell by four to 476.

The oil rig remains down 75.9 percent from its October 10, 2014 peak and down more than 53 percent from this week last year. The last time producers added rigs was in the week of Dec. 11 through Dec. 18, when the count rose from 524 to 541.

Today’s rock-bottom rig count, and the declining production it has driven, has helped pushed oil prices back above $40 per barrel.

On Friday, oil was hovering around $40 per barrel after briefly touching a high of $41.19 per barrel. Shortly after the count was released, oil traded down 20 cents or 0.5 percent to $40.00 per barrel.