Canadian oil and natural gas drilling will rise 9 percent this year, an industry group said, boosting its estimates from November.

The higher forecast was attributed to an increase in gas drilling in British Columbia and more oil drilling in Alberta, the Petroleum Services Association of Canada said in an e-mailed statement today. Companies are expected to drill 12,000 wells, a 600-well increase from the group’s prior projection.

“Drilling activity is keeping on a steady pace this year, and we anticipate another pick up in activity” in the third and fourth quarters, Mark Salkeld, chief executive officer of the Calgary-based organization, said in the statement.

Natural gas prices gained 39 percent in New York during the first quarter of 2013, compared with a year earlier.

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