Dec 19, 1:44 PM EST

US rig count down 18 to 1,875


HOUSTON (AP) -- Oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc. says the number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. fell by 18 this week to 1,875.

The Houston firm said Friday in its weekly report that 1,536 rigs were exploring for oil and 338 for gas. One was listed as miscellaneous. A year ago 1,768 rigs were active.

Of the major oil- and gas-producing states, Arkansas gained three rigs, Kansas and New Mexico each rose by two and Alaska and Pennsylvania were up one apiece.

North Dakota declined by seven, Oklahoma by six, Texas down four, Louisiana off three, and Ohio and West Virginia each decreased two.

California, Colorado, Utah and Wyoming were unchanged.

The U.S. rig count peaked at 4,530 in 1981 and bottomed at 488 in 1999.

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