*Gas-directed rig count falls to lowest since July 1999
* Horizontal rig count drops for third straight week
The number of rigs drilling for natural gas in the United States dropped this week to the lowest level in 13 years as producers continued to slow dry gas drilling operations and focus instead on more profitable oil and gas liquids wells.
The gas-directed rig count posted its ninth drop in the last 10 weeks, sliding by 13 this week to 505, the lowest since late July 1999 when there were 498 rigs operating, data from oil services firm Baker Hughes showed on Friday.
The gas rig count is down 46 percent since peaking last year at 936 in October. The nine-month-long drop has fed expectations that producers were getting serious about stemming the flood of record gas supplies.
Baker Hughes earlier this month said it expects the U.S. natural gas rig count to stand at 488 by the end of this year, down 321 from 2011 levels....MORE