Oil Report

US natural gas rig count up for 14th straight week

* U.S. gas rig count rises for 14 straight weeks

* Gas rig count hits another 13-month high

NEW YORK, April 1 (Reuters) - The number of rigs drilling for natural gas in the United States climbed eight this week to a fresh 13-month high of 949, according to a report on Friday by oil services firm Baker Hughes in Houston.

It was the 14th straight weekly gain and puts the gas rig count at its highest level since Feb. 27, 2009, when there were 970 gas rigs operating.

The U.S. natural gas drilling rig count has rebounded nearly 43 percent since bottoming at 665 on July 17, its lowest level since May 3, 2002, when there were 640 active gas rigs.

While the rig count is still well off its recent peak above 1,600 in September 2008, it now stands at 141 rigs, or 18 percent, above the same week last year.

Many gas producers scaled back drilling earlier last year with credit tight and natural gas cash prices sinking late last summer to about $2 per million British thermal units, a 7-1/2 year low and down some 85 percent from July 2008 highs above $13.

With current gas prices near $4 area, off more than 30 percent since early January highs above $6, some analysts expect to see a slowdown in drilling, noting current prices were no longer a strong incentive to start new wells.

The break-even point for some key shale basins like Haynesville in Louisiana and Marcellus in Appalachia ranges between $3.50 and $4, according to some analysts. (Reporting by Eileen Moustakis; Editing by Marguerita Choy)