The number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. increased by 17 this week to 481.
A year ago, 884 rigs were active. Depressed energy prices have sharply curtailed oil and gas exploration.
Houston oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc. said Friday that 396 rigs sought oil and 83 explored for natural gas this week. Two were listed as miscellaneous.
Among major oil- and gas-producing states, Texas gained 13 rigs and Colorado, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio and Utah were up one each.
California declined by one.
Alaska, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Wyoming were unchanged.
The U.S. rig count peaked at 4,530 in 1981. It bottomed out in May at 404.
HOUSTON (AP) —