Two more rigs in U.S. oilfields; third increase in a row

(Baker Hughes Inc.)
(Baker Hughes Inc.)

Two more rigs crawled onto U.S. oilfields this week, the third increase in a row and the eighth in 10 weeks, adding to the oil industry’s slow recovery. Oil prices crested $50 on Thursday for the first time since June.

The number of active rigs across the nation has now climbed from a low of 406 in May to 524 this week, according to data released Friday by oil services firm Baker Hughes. There are still, however, 271 fewer rigs in operation than there were at this time last year.

Over the past week, the number of active oil rigs rose by three to 428, the company reported. Gas rigs dipped by two to 94, and miscellaneous rigs rose by one. The U.S. offshore rig count is 23, up one from last week, and down nine on the year.

Texas added two rigs to the patch this week, rising to 247, the largest total by far in the U.S. Oklahoma also added two, for a total of 70, the second highest in the country. Alaska, Louisiana and Pennsylvania added one rig each. Several states lost one rig.

Oil prices have ranged between $40 and $50 a barrel over the past few months, climbing over the past several days following a preliminary agreement among OPEC members to cut production. Crude was trading at $50.51 a barrel in New York around mid-day.