U.S. energy firms this week added oil and natural gas rigs for the first time in five weeks, energy services firm Baker Hughes said in its closely followed report on April 19.

The oil and gas rig count, an early indicator of future output, rose by two to 619 in the week to April 19

Despite this week's rig increase, Baker Hughes said the total count was still down 134, or 18%, from this time last year.

Baker Hughes said oil rigs rose five to 511 this week, their highest since September, while gas rigs fell three to 106, their lowest since December 2021.

The oil and gas rig count dropped about 20% in 2023 after rising by 33% in 2022 and 67% in 2021, due to a decline in oil and gas prices, higher labor and equipment costs from soaring inflation and as companies focused on paying down debt and boosting shareholder returns instead of raising output.

U.S. oil futures were up about 17% so far in 2024 after dropping by 11% in 2023. U.S. gas futures , meanwhile, were down about 30% so far in 2024 after plunging by 44% in 2023.

That increase in oil prices should encourage drillers to boost U.S. crude output from a record 12.9 MMbbl/d in 2023 to 13.2 MMbbl/d in 2024 and 13.7 MMbbl/d in 2025, according to the latest U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) outlook.

But the drop in gas prices to 3-1/2-year lows in February and March has caused several producers to slash spending and reduce drilling activities, which should cut U.S. gas output to 103.6 Bcf/d in 2024 from a record 103.8 Bcf/d in 2023, according to the EIA.