The U.S. natural gas rig count held steady at 119 for the week ended Friday (Dec. 15), while the overall number of domestic rigs eased lower on a slowdown in oil-directed activity, according to updated figures from Baker Hughes Co. (BKR).

Domestic natural gas rigs ended the period down 35 from the 154 rigs active at this time a year ago, the BKR data show. Oil-directed drilling declined by two rigs domestically week/week, with miscellaneous rigs down one.

U.S. land drilling eased one unit lower to 604 rigs for the week, with the Gulf of Mexico dropping two rigs to end with 17. Directional drilling fell by three rigs overall, with vertical rigs down one. Partly offsetting was a one-rig increase in horizontal drilling.

The U.S. rig count stood at a combined 623 rigs as of...