The U.S. natural gas rig count climbed three units to 88 for the week ending Friday (Jan. 22), helping to extend a trend of steady growth in domestic drilling activity going back to last year, the latest figures from oilfield services provider Baker Hughes Co. (BKR) show.

rig count Jan. 22

Including the addition of two oil-directed rigs, the combined U.S. rig count rose five units to 378, still 416 rigs behind the 794 rigs active at this time last year, according to the BKR data. The figures are based in part on data provided by Enverus.

Still, the domestic drilling total has climbed steadily over the past several months after dropping to 244 last August.

Domestic land drilling increased by five units for the most recent week, while the Gulf of Mexico tally remained unchanged at 16. Horizontal...