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Rough year ahead for oil patch

Falling oil and natural gas prices will result in a rough 2015 in the oil patch, and could put tens of thousands out of work.

In a statement released Thursday, the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors (CAODC) said the number of active rigs will see a 41% drop this year — falling from 2014's average of 370 rigs per day to just 203.

"The new reality of $55 oil means that the entire industry will hurt for a period, and drillers and service rig contractors are not immune to that," said CAODC President Mark Scholz.

"We have been through rough patches before and come out strong on the other end, and I'm confident that we will do that again, but right now, that's going to involve buckling in."

Job losses due to the plunging price of oil could reach as high as 23,000.

While up to 3,400 rig workers may lose their jobs this year, the association predicts up to 19,500 indirect positions could be affected.

"Times like this are tough not just on contractors, but on their employees as well," Scholz said. "This will have significant adverse effects on indirect employment throughout the economy, well beyond just rig workers."

Oil closed at US$46.31 a barrel Thursday, about $17 higher than the price many experts say will trigger a global recession.

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