UPDATE 2-U.S. oil rig count hits record - Baker Hughes

Fri Oct 14, 2011 9:30pm BST

 * Oil rig count up 10 at 1,080 - Baker Hughes
 * About 53 pct of U.S. rigs drilling for oil
 * Rig count 55.4 pct higher than a year ago
 (Recasts, adds details)
 Oct 14 (Reuters) - The number of rigs drilling for oil in
the United States this week reached a record high in at least
24 years as producers scrambled to tap resources in
unconventional oil fields in North Dakota, Texas and other
states, data from an oil services firm showed on Friday.
 U.S. oil rigs rose to 1,080, the highest number on Baker
Hughes' data, which goes back to 1987.
 The oil-directed rig count this week is 55.4 percent higher
than a year ago, when 695 rigs were operating.
 The highest weekly U.S. count for both oil and natural-gas
directed rigs was 4,530 recorded on Dec. 28, 1981, Baker Hughes
says on its website.
 The latest record reflects U.S. oil companies' shift from
drilling for natural gas to more lucrative oil as the price of
the former halved in the past three years.
 Producers have successfully adopted technologies from the
shale gas revolution, which combines horizontal drilling with
hydraulic fracturing, for oil exploration. Some 53 percent of
U.S. rigs were drilling for oil, the data showed.
 The increased focus on unconventional oil fields has led to
huge changes in production in states such as North Dakota,
whose output hit another record above 444,000 barrels per day
in August mostly from the Bakken oil play, according to state
regulators.
 U.S. shale oil output has grown from negligible a few years
ago to about 700,000 bpd in June and could reach 2 million bpd
in the coming five years, industry estimates show.
 Operating rigs reflect this growth. The number of oil rigs
drilling in the country has grown by 242 percent since the
start of 2008, Baker Hughes data shows.
 (Reporting by Selam Gebrekidan; Editing by Dale Hudson and
Marguerita Choy)