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A worker waits to connect a drill bit on Endeavor Energy Resources LP's Big Dog Drilling Rig 22 in the Permian basin outside of Midland, Texas, U.S., on Friday, Dec. 12, 2014.Brittany Sowacke/Bloomberg

U.S. drillers have shut more than 200 oil rigs in the past six weeks as crude prices headed for their longest losing streak since 1986 amid a global glut.

The oil rig count declined by 55 to 1,366 this week, Baker Hughes Inc. said on its website Friday, the lowest level in more than a year and down 209 from 1,575 on Dec. 5. Those drilling for natural gas dropped by 19 to 310.

The slide in oil rigs over the past three months has been taken by analysts including HSBC Holdings PLC as yet another sign that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is winning its fight for market share and slowing the shale-oil boom that's propelled U.S. production to the highest in at least three decades. OPEC's refusal to curb its own output amid increasing supplies from the U.S. and other countries has driven global oil prices down 58 per cent since June.

"We are seeing leading indicators of weak prices starting to drive the rebalancing that OPEC is seeking to achieve," HSBC analysts including Gordon Gray, said in a research note Thursday.

West Texas intermediate for February delivery rose $1.75 (U.S.) to $48 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 12:17 p.m. East Coast time, down 36 cents for the week. Brent, the international benchmark, rose $2.17 to $49.84 on the London-based ICE Futures Europe Exchange, paring the weekly loss to 27 cents for the front-month contract.

"Prices are being forced toward levels that would force outright shut-ins in high-cost areas, mainly in Canada and the U.S.," Société Générale SA analysts including Mark Keenan, its head of commodities research for Asia in Singapore, said in a research note Jan. 14.

Rising Production

The slump in oil rigs has yet to stop the unprecedented growth in U.S. oil production, which added 60,000 barrels a day in the week ended Jan. 9 to 9.19 million, Energy Information Administration data show. That's the most in weekly data since at least 1983.

Meanwhile, projects are being cancelled and budgets cut around the globe. Royal Dutch Shell PLC called off a $6.5-billion project in Qatar. Contract drillers Helmerich & Payne Inc. and Pioneer Energy Services Corp. lost U.S. rig contracts. Mexican oil service companies cut more than 10,000 people. Suncor Energy Inc. fired workers in Canada.

Calgary-based Suncor said in a statement Jan. 13 that it would "take further action as required."

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