Rig count jumps again

ARTESIA, NM – Deck hands attach a drill bit to a section of steel pipe and insert it back into a well on a natural gas drilling rig in 2007. (Photo by Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images)

The number of oil and gas rigs in U.S. fields leaped again this week, up 18 on the week or about 160 over the past three months.

This week’s count marks the ninth increase in the last 10 weeks, and a boom of more than 300 rigs since the count fell to its recent low, last spring.

U.S. oil drillers collectively sent 15 more rigs into the patch this week, the Houston oilfield services company Baker Hughes reported Friday. Gas drillers added three.

Texas again led the rise, with 9 more rigs. The Permian Basin, in West Texas and New Mexico, added 10.

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The total rig count rose to 712, up from a low of 404 in May, and up 93 rigs year over year.

The number of active oil rigs jumped to 566 this week, gas rigs to 145. The number offshore rigs dipped again, by three to 21, down 7 rigs year over year.

Total rig counts lifted by 9 in Texas, five in Oklahoma, four in New Mexico, two in Louisiana, one in North Dakota and one in Alaska. Colorado lost 3, Arkansas and West Virginia, one.

Drilling activity has continued to rise despite stagnating oil prices. Since February’s low of about $26 a barrel, prices have hovered above $50 for several weeks now.

U.S. oil prices settled on Thursday at $53.78, up $1.03, or about 2 percent, but had fallen in midday trading Friday.