With natural gas futures prices stabilizing in the $7-8/MMBtu region and crude futures hovering around $60/bbl, it appears that North American producers are upping their drilling activity to capture profits from the higher prices. According to Houston-based Baker Hughes Inc., the North American count of rigs actively exploring for or developing oil and natural gas during February increased fairly significantly over both January 2007 and February 2006 tallies.

Baker Hughes, which provides drilling, formation evaluation, completion and production products and services worldwide, found that 2,371 rotary rigs were operating onshore and offshore North America during February 2007, which is 89 rigs more than January 2007 and 123 rigs more than February 2006. However, operating workover rigs in North America during the month numbered 2,306, just 28 rigs more than January 2007 and 50 rigs less than February 2006.

Operating rotary rigs in the U.S. showed a fairly significant increase in numbers as well. The U.S. rig count for February 2007 was 1,736, up 22 from the 1,714 counted in January 2007 and up 203 from the 1,533 counted in February 2006. The Canadian rig count for February 2007 was 635, up 67 from the 568 counted in January 2007 and down 80 from the 715 counted in February 2006.

The international rig count for February 2007 was 981, up nine from the 972 counted in January 2007 and up 96 from the 885 counted in February 2006. The international offshore rig count for February 2007 was 286, up 10 from the 276 counted in January 2007 and up 19 from the 267 counted in February 2006. The worldwide rig count for February 2007 was 3,352, up 98 from the 3,254 counted in January 2007 and up 219 from the 3,133 counted in February 2006.

Baker Hughes' North American rig count data is scheduled to be released at noon central time on the last working day of each week. The international rig count and North American workover rig counts are scheduled to be released on the fifth working day of the month. Additional detailed information on the Baker Hughes rig counts is available at www.bakerhughes.com/investor/rig.

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