- Associated Press - Friday, October 14, 2016

HOUSTON (AP) - The number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. increased by 15 this week to 539.

A year ago, 787 rigs were active. Depressed energy prices have sharply curtailed oil and gas exploration.

Houston oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc. said Friday that 432 rigs sought oil and 105 explored for natural gas this week. Two were listed as miscellaneous.

Among major oil- and gas-producing states, Louisiana gained six rigs, New Mexico and Oklahoma increased by three each, Colorado was up two and Alaska, Pennsylvania and West Virginia added one apiece.

Texas declined by three rigs.

Arkansas, California, Kansas, North Dakota, Ohio, Utah and Wyoming were unchanged.

The U.S. rig count peaked at 4,530 in 1981. It bottomed out in May at 404.

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