Texas and Oklahoma led an increase in the number of working oil and natural gas rigs in the United States, which rose 17 this week to 1,064, Baker Hughes Inc. reports.

The Houston-based toolmaker said the count was up from last week's 1,047 and was above the number for the same week a year ago when 960 rigs were working across the country.The rise for the week was led primarily by Oklahoma, which reported a gain of six rigs for the week, and Texas, which reported a gain of four.

"Seasonally, this is the time when the rig count rises," said I.C. Kerridge, a Baker Hughes vice president and keeper of the count.

Kerridge said the rig count dropped the last two weeks and "this may be getting back on the seasonal track."

Baker-Hughes has kept track of the rig count - the widely watched index of drilling activity - since 1940. The count represents the number of rigs actively exploring for oil, not those producing oil.

At the height of the oil boom in December 1981, the rig count reached a peak of 4,500. But the rig count plunged to a low of 663 after oil prices collapsed in the summer of 1986.

Kerridge said higher oil prices have not yet affected the rig count but said a 9 percent jump in workover rigs - used for routine maintenance on producing rigs - was attributable to the higher prices.

"We're looking for a strong fourth quarter," Kerridge said. "People would like to see some stability and oil prices staying at a reasonably high level. If that continues, will see increases in the rig count."

Besides Oklahoma and Texas, other major oil producing states that reported gains for the week included Colorado, up two; Louisiana, up four; New Mexico, up three; and Pennsylvania, up one.

Among states reporting a loss in drilling activity for the week were California, down two; Kansas, down one; Ohio, down one; and Wyoming, down five. North Dakota's rig count was unchanged.