The number of oil rigs drilling in the U.S. rose for the third consecutive week, rising by 30 to 1,387, Baker Hughes Inc. (BHI:US) said.
Oil rigs have jumped by 63 in the past three weeks, the biggest three-week advance in more than a year. They reached the highest level since Nov. 23.
Gas rigs also gained, rising by two to 377, according to data on the website of the Houston-based field-services company. Gas wells reached the lowest level since 1999 last week. The total count rose 33 to 1,771.
U.S. gas stockpiles dropped 14 billion cubic feet to 1.673 trillion in the week ended April 5, according to the Energy Information Administration, the Energy Department’s statistical arm. A deficit to year-earlier levels widened to 32.5 percent from 31.6 percent a week earlier, a record in EIA data going back to 2005.
“It’s the first time since 2008 that inventories were below the five-year average at the start of the refill season, in part, due to the recent cold weather and decreased drilling for natural gas wells,” Christian O’Neill, a Bloomberg Industries analyst in New York, said yesterday.
Natural gas for May delivery gained 10.3 cents, or 2.5 percent, to $4.242 per million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 1:10 p.m. Futures have more than doubled from a year ago.
U.S. oil output climbed 30,000 barrels a day last week to 7.18 million barrels a day, reaching a 20-year high, EIA data show. Stockpiles rose 250,000 barrels to 388.9 million, the highest in more than 22 years.
Crude for May delivery on the Nymex fell $2.47, or 2.6 percent, to $91.04 a barrel, down 12 percent in the past year.
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