The number of working oil and gas rigs jumped this week by 13 to total 779, marking the second consecutive weekly increases after a lengthy downward trend, Baker Hughes Inc. reports.

Last week the rig count increased by 26 following a decline of three in the previous week. A year ago, the total was 941, the company said."We like to see three weeks in a row before we declare that it's up, but we've got two of the three already," Baker Hughes economist Ike Kerridge said.

"We haven't had a normal year recently, but if you look back over a number of years the count usually bottoms out in late March or early April and then it turns back up," Kerridge said. "We're hopeful that this will prove to be the upturn."

The rig count is a widely watched industry index of drilling activity and it reflects the number of rigs actively exploring for oil as of last Friday, not the number of rigs actively producing oil.