The number of rigs actively exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. declined 15 this week to 1,178.
Houston-based Baker Hughes Inc. said Wednesday that 751 rigs were exploring for natural gas and 416 for oil. Eleven were listed as miscellaneous. A year ago this week, the rig count stood at 1,721.
Of the major oil- and gas-producing states, Arkansas and Colorado each were down by two while Alaska, California, New Mexico and Wyoming declined by one. Louisiana, North Dakota and Oklahoma each gained two and Pennsylvania was up one. Texas and West Virginia were unchanged.
The rig count tally peaked at 4,530 in 1981, during the height of the oil boom. The industry posted a record low of 488 in 1999.
The weekly report, normally released on Friday, moved early this week because of the Christmas holiday.