Jun 26, 3:22 PM EDT

US oil and natural gas rig count increases by 2 to 859


HOUSTON (AP) -- Oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc. says the number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. increased by two this week to 859, the first weekly gain since December.

Houston-based Baker Hughes said Friday 628 rigs were seeking oil and 228 explored for natural gas. Three were listed as miscellaneous. A year ago, with oil prices nearly twice the current levels, 1,873 rigs were active.

Among major oil- and gas-producing states, Louisiana gained six rigs. New Mexico and West Virginia each rose by one.

North Dakota and Ohio declined by three apiece and Texas was down by two.

Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Utah and Wyoming were all unchanged.

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

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