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While U.S. rig count soars, Gulf stagnates

While U.S. rig count soars, Gulf stagnates

An increase in oil drilling continues in shale fields across the nation, but the Gulf of Mexico remains stagnant, the latest figures show.

The Gulf rig count, a key barometer for Houma-Thibodaux's oil-based economy, stood at 20 Friday, according to weekly figures from Houston-based oilfield-services company Baker-Hughes. That's down one for the week and five from the same week in 2016. It's down 58 percent compared to the 48 rigs working in the sixth week of 2015.

The U.S. rig count continued to grow, however, increasing by 12 to 741. That's up 200 from this point last year, and the highest the U.S. rig count has been since 737 rigs were working in the first week of December 2015. The number of rigs is still down 49 percent compared to the sixth week of 2015 when the U.S. had 1,456 rigs. Of the current 741 rigs, 591 sought oil while 149 explored for natural gas, with listed as miscellaneous.