(Reuters) – U.S. energy firms this week added oil and natural gas rigs for a third week in a row for the first time since October 2018 after price increases in recent months prompted some producers to start drilling again.

FILE PHOTO: The sun is seen behind a crude oil pump jack in the Permian Basin in Loving County, Texas, U.S., November 22, 2019. REUTERS/Angus Mordant/File Photo

The oil and gas rig count, an early indicator of future output, rose five to 266 in the week to Oct. 2, energy services firm Baker Hughes Co BKR.N said in its closely followed report on Friday. RIG-USA-BHIRIG-OL-USA-BHIRIG-GS-USA-BHI

The total rig count fell to a record low of 244 rigs during the week ended Aug. 14, according to Baker Hughes data going back to 1940.

U.S. oil rigs rose six to 189 this week, their lowest since the week to June 19, while gas rigs fell by one to 74, according to Baker Hughes data.

More than half the U.S. oil rigs are in the Permian basin in West Texas and eastern New Mexico where total units rose four to 129 this week, the most since late June.

Even though U.S. oil prices are still down about 39% since the start of the year due to coronavirus demand destruction, U.S. crude futures CLc1 have gained 100% over the past six months to around $37 a barrel on Friday mostly on hopes global economies and energy demand will snap back as governments lift lockdowns. [O/R]

Analysts said those higher oil prices have encouraged some energy firms to start drilling again.

“We’re increasingly optimistic that a bottom has now been set and still expect to see further (albeit measured) activity momentum into year end 2020,” analysts at Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co said

Gov. Charlie Baker’s office said Tuesday that starting Oct. 5, communities in the lower risk COVID-19 category can allow some performance venues to increase their capacity, along with gyms, museums, and libraries.

Lower risk communities on Oct. 5 will be permitted to open indoor performance venues with 50 percent capacity and a maximum of 250 people; increase the outdoor venue capacity to 50 percent with the same 250-person ceiling; open attractions such as trampolines, obstacle courses, roller rinks and laser tag at 50 percent capacity; and open fitting rooms in all types of retail stores, the statement said.

In addition, Baker’s office said, the lower risk communities will be able to increase capacity to 50 percent at museums, libraries and driving and flight schools.

“On May 18, the Baker-Polito Administration released a four-phased plan to reopen the economy based on sustained improvements in public health data,” the statement said. “Last month, the Administration began releasing data on the average daily COVID cases per 100,000 residents, average percent positivity, and total case counts, for all 351 Massachusetts cities and towns. Lower risk communities are defined as cities and towns that have not been a ‘red’ community in any of the last three weekly Department of Public Health (DPH) weekly reports.”

Speaking during an afternoon briefing Tuesday at the State House, Baker said that officials through contact tracing efforts and observing other states have determined that the activities that’ll be permitted Oct. 5 in lower risk cities and towns “have not led to significant [virus] transmission in other states.”

Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito said a community must be in a lower risk category for three straight weeks before it can take advantage of the loosened restrictions. And, Polito said, if a municipality goes back into a high-risk category, it will