Jul 22, 6:21 PM EDT

US rig count up 15 this week to 462


HOUSTON (AP) -- The number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. increased by 15 this week to 462.

A year ago, 876 rigs were active. Depressed energy prices have sharply curtailed oil and gas exploration.

Houston oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc. said Friday that 371 rigs sought oil and 88 explored for natural gas this week. Three were listed as miscellaneous.

Among major oil- and gas-producing states, Texas gained 15, California was up by two and New Mexico gained one.

Louisiana declined by two. Alaska and Kansas each lost one.

Arkansas, Colorado, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming were unchanged.

The U.S. rig count peaked at 4,530 in 1981. It bottomed out in May at 404.

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