(Reuters) — U.S. energy companies kept the oil rig count unchanged this week, Baker Hughes energy services firm said on Friday, as some analysts expect a gradual decline in overall rigs in the fourth quarter and in 2018.

The rig count held at 738 in the week to Nov. 17, still much higher than 471 rigs a year ago as energy companies boosted spending plans for 2017 as crude started recovering from a two-year price crash.

The increase in drilling lasted 14 months before stalling in August, September and October after some producers started trimming their 2017 spending plans when prices turned softer over the summer.

There were 915 oil and natural gas rigs active on Nov. 17. The average number of rigs in service so far in 2017 was 870. That compares with 509 in 2016 and 978 in 2015.

The total rig count so far in the fourth quarter averaged 915, down from an average of 942 in the third quarter.