With energy futures prices spiking over the last few months, the U.S. oil and gas industry responded in kind as the number of rigs actively seeking new supplies jumped during February, according to the Baker Hughes Inc. rig count.

According to the company's February report, the U.S. rig count for February -- which includes the number of drilling rigs actively exploring for or developing oil or natural gas -- was 1,765, up 16 from the 1,749 counted in January and up 29 from the 1,736 counted in February 2007. The Canadian rig count for February was 620, up 126 from the 494 counted in January and down 15 from the 635 counted in February 2007.

The increase comes as no surprise. April crude futures notched another record high on Friday. The contract reached $106 before settling at $105.15/bbl. Crude futures' current price level is approximately $45/bbl higher than it was during this time last year. Likewise, April natural gas futures put in a new high for the move up on Friday at $10/MMbtu before settling at $9.769, which marks a $2.403 premium over the same day during 2007.

The international rig count for February was 1,032, down 21 from the 1,053 counted in January, and up 51 from the 981 counted in February 2007. The international offshore rig count for February was 275, down 16 from the 291 counted in January and down 11 from the 286 counted in February 2007.

Combined, the worldwide rig count for February was 3,417, up 121 from the 3,296 counted in January and up 65 from the 3,352 counted in February 2007.

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