Petroleum exploration rig count down 14 in US; Alaska loses 1

December 18, 2010 

HOUSTON, Texas -- The number of rigs actively exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. dropped by 14 last week to 1,709.

Houston-based Baker Hughes Inc. said Friday that 941 rigs were exploring for natural gas and 756 for oil. Twelve were listed as miscellaneous. A year ago this week, the rig count stood at 1,193.

Of the major oil- and gas-producing states, Pennsylvania gained three rigs, Louisiana and New Mexico each gained two and North Dakota and West Virginia each increased by one rig. Wyoming lost the most rigs, dropping by six. Texas and Oklahoma each lost four rigs. California, Colorado and Alaska each lost one. Arkansas remained unchanged.

The rig count peaked at 4,530 in 1981 at the height of the oil boom. It posted a record low of 488 in 1999.

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