US rig count up 8 this week to 497

The number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. increased by eight this week to 497.

A year ago, 864 rigs were active. Depressed energy prices have sharply curtailed oil and gas exploration.

Houston oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc. said Friday that 407 rigs sought oil and 88 explored for natural gas this week. Two were listed as miscellaneous.

Among major oil- and gas-producing states, Oklahoma, Wyoming and Texas gained four rigs each, Pennsylvania was up two, while North Dakota and West Virginia increased by one apiece.

Louisiana declined by seven and Colorado was down one.

Alaska, Arkansas, California, Kansas, New Mexico, Ohio and Utah were unchanged.

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