Nov 6 (Reuters) - U.S. energy firms cut oil rigs for a tenth week in a row this week, decreasing the pace of declines from recent weeks, data showed on Friday, a sign low prices continued to keep drillers away from the well pad.
Drillers removed six oil rigs in the week ended Nov. 6, bringing the total rig count down to 572, the least since June 2010, oil services company Baker Hughes Inc said in its closely followed report.
That is around a third of the 1,568 oil rigs operating in same week a year ago. Over the 10 weeks, drillers cut 103 oil rigs.
Although U.S. oil futures have averaged $46 a barrel so far this week, up from $45 last week, the front-month December contract was on track to post its third weekly decline in four as an oversupply of physical oil and a strong dollar bedeviled the market.
U.S. oil futures were down on Friday as the dollar rallied on expectations of a rate hike before the year-end after strong U.S. jobs growth for October.
Energy traders noted the rate of oil rig reductions over the past two months - about 11 on average - was much lower than the 19 rigs cut on average over the past year since the number of rigs peaked at 1,609 in October 2014, due in part to expectations of slightly higher prices in the future.
U.S. crude futures for next year were trading around on average almost $49 a barrel, according to the full year 2016 calendar strip on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Higher prices encourage drillers to add rigs. The most recent time crude prices were much higher than they are now was in May and June when U.S. futures averaged $60 a barrel.
In response to those higher prices, drillers added 47 rigs over the summer even though crude prices had declined to an average of $47 a barrel by the time July and August rolled around.
The rig count is one of several indicators traders look at in trying to figure out whether production will rise or fall over the next several months. Other factors include how fast energy firms complete previously drilled but unfinished wells and recent rises in well efficiency and productivity.
U.S. oil production eased to 9.3 million barrels per day (bpd) in August from 9.4 million bpd in July, according to the latest U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) 914 production report.
On a weekly basis, U.S. oil output edged up to 9.2 million bpd last week after holding at 9.1 million bpd since the start of September, according to EIA’s weekly field production report. That is still well below the 9.6 million bpd peak seen in April. (Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Marguerita Choy)