U.S. Oil-Rig Count Increases to 659 in Latest Week

The U.S. oil-rig count rose by 21 to 659 in the latest week, reversing last week’s downturn, according to Baker Hughes Inc.

The number of U.S. oil-drilling rigs, which is a proxy for activity in the oil industry, had fallen sharply since oil prices headed south last year. They had  ped for 29 straight weeks before rising for two weeks and then falling again last week. This is the largest increase seen yet this year. Previous increases were by 12 rigs and five rigs.

Oil prices fell nearly 60% from June 2014 to a six-year low in March, as soaring production from the U.S. and other countries overwhelmed global demand.

There are still about 59% fewer rigs working since a peak of 1,609 in October, though the pace of declines has slowed considerably recently. In late May, several U.S. shale-oil companies said they were ready to bring rigs back into service, setting up the first big test of their ability to quickly react to rising crude prices.

According to Baker Hughes, gas rigs were down by two to 216 this week.

The U.S. offshore rig count was unchanged at 31 in the latest week, though it is still off 29 from a year earlier.

For all rigs, including natural gas, the week’s increase was 19 to 876, which is down 1,007 rigs from the same period last year.

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