From Staff Reports

The number of U.S. rigs drilling for oil and natural gas increased by one in the past week, while Texas broke a nine-week losing streak by adding six units.

It was the first gain in the U.S. count in 8 weeks.

In its weekly report Friday, Baker Hughes said the increase in the combined tally of oil and gas rigs at work across the nation pushed the total to 855.

The number of rigs exploring for oil was up two, to 712, while the tally of rigs seeking gas fell one, to 143.

The number of oil-directed rigs is down 157 from the same week a year ago, with gas rigs down 50.

Texas was the week’s big gainer, with a six-rig gain pushing its total to 420. That’s still down 112 from the same week a year ago.

Directly reflecting that gain, the West Texas-New Mexico Permian Basin added six rigs, making 421 at work there.

The East Texas-Louisiana Haynesville Shale added two, to 52.

The total at work in Louisiana also increased two, to 57.

Oklahoma lost another three rigs, leaving 62 at work. Those three were pulled from that state’s Cana Woodford play, where the week’s loss left 33 working.

Despite steady declines in the number of oil rigs deployed, production has increased to a record 12.6 million barrels per day in the week ending Sept. 4, according to the latest federal data.

Oil prices were up ahead of the rig count data after reports that an Iranian oil tanker was struck with what appeared to be two missiles. Iran has called it a terrorist incident. Benchmark U.S. crude was up about 1.9 percent to $54.59 per barrel by Friday afternoon, while Brent, the international benchmark, was up about 2.1 percent to $60.34.

Brent initially jumped above $60 a barrel after the Islamic Republic News Agency reported a National Iranian Tanker Co. ship caught fire after a blast off the coast of Saudi Arabia, reigniting fears over military escalation in the world’s most important crude-producing region. Prices gave up some of the gains as the International Energy Agency trimmed its forecast for demand growth this year and in 2020.