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The natural gas rotary rig count, as reported by Baker Hughes Incorporated, rose by 2 this week to 600, after falling to a 10 year low of 598 last week. After increasing modestly to 936 active rigs in the fall of 2011, the natural gas rig count has dropped sharply. The oil rig count, currently at 1,382, has generally risen steadily since 2009, largely in response to increasing crude oil prices.
Natural gas rigs are currently down about 31 percent from their level at the same time last year, while oil rigs have risen by 45 percent over the same period. However, increased productivity from shale gas formations (generated by horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing) and rising associated production from expanding oil directed development activity have helped maintain robust natural gas production.
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