UPDATE 1-U.S. natgas rig count gains for 3rd time in 4 weeks -Baker Hughes

Fri Nov 8, 2013 1:33pm EST

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* 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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