UPDATE 1-U.S. natgas rig count gains for 3rd time in 4 weeks -Baker Hughes
* Gas rig count climbs 5 to 365 * Horizontal rigs gain for second straight week * Oil rig count adds 7 to 1,383 NEW YORK, Nov 8 (Reuters) - The number of rigs drilling for natural gas in the United States gained this week for the third time in four weeks, climbing by five to 365, data from Houston-based Baker Hughes showed on Friday. The gas-directed rig count, which hit a six-month high of 401 eight weeks ago, has increased in 12 of the last 20 weeks and remains above the 18-year low of 349, set in late June. A rising gas rig count can stir talk that new pipelines and processing plants, particularly in the East, may be encouraging producers to hook up more wells and pump more supply into an already well-supplied market. Gas futures prices on Friday, which were up about 4.5 cents at $3.564 per million British thermal units just before the rig data was released at 1:01 p.m. EST (1801 GMT), were still trading at about that level at 1:20 p.m. The oil-focused rig count rose for the second straight week, climbing seven to 1,383. The oil rig count hit a nine-month high of 1,413 in mid-June, Baker Hughes data showed. The oil count is down just six rigs from the same week last year. Baker Hughes reported that horizontal rigs, the type often used to extract oil or gas from shale, also increased for a second week, adding 10 to 1,114. The horizontal count is down 6.6 percent from the record high of 1,193 in May 2012. While the gas-directed rig count is off 61 percent since peaking in October 2011 at 936, gas production has not showed any signs of slowing. The associated gas produced from more profitable shale oil and shale gas liquids wells has kept dry gas flowing at or near a record pace. U.S. Energy Information Administration data last week showed that gross gas production hit a record high in August, climbing to 74.82 billion cubic feet per day. Output in August was running about 2.3 bcfd, or 3.1 percent, above the same month last year. The EIA still expects U.S. gas production in 2013 to hit a record high for the third straight year.
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