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Rig Count Drops By 40 for Week

March 18, 1991

HOUSTON (AP) _ The number of working oil and gas rigs dropped sharply this past week, down 40 rigs to 908, Baker Hughes Inc. reported Monday.

The count is identical to that of the same week one year ago. Last week, the rig count dropped by one.

The rig count traditionally falls through April, but this latest decline was probably due to low natural gas prices, a Baker Hughes official said.

″Prices are very depressed, much lower than people expected,″ said Baker Hughes vice president Ike Kerridge. ″The winter in the North and East was just too warm.″

Texas led the decline among major oil producing states, dropping by 16 for the week. Kerridge said the largest Texas declines were in the Permian Basin and in far south part of the state.

California was the biggest gainer, reporting an increase of three for the week.

The count represents the number of rigs actively exploring for petroleum and natural gas, not those producing oil and gas. Baker Hughes has kept track of the rig count - the widely watched index of drilling activity - since 1940.

At the height of the oil boom in December 1981, the count reached a peak of 4,500. But the rig count plunged to a low of 663 after oil prices collapsed in the summer of 1986.

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