Number of rigs down 23 this week

HOUSTON (AP) - The number of rigs actively exploring for oil and natural gas in the United States dropped by 23 this week to 1,995.

Of the rigs running nationwide, 1,559 were exploring for natural gas and 423 for oil, Houston-based Baker Hughes Inc. reported Friday. Thirteen were listed as miscellaneous.

A year ago, the rig count stood at 1,760.

Of the major oil- and gas-producing states, Texas gained three rigs, and North Dakota gained two. Louisiana lost 15 rigs, Oklahoma lost nine rigs, Colorado lost seven and Wyoming lost three. Alaska, Arkansas, California and New Mexico were unchanged.

Baker Hughes has tracked rig counts since 1944. The tally peaked at 4,530 in 1981, during the height of the oil boom. The industry posted several record lows in 1999, bottoming out at 488.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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