Downturn that some analysts say is looming

With the move, Hamm, who last month called OPEC a "toothless tiger," appears to be heading into a price war with Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter, without any protection from a prolonged downturn that some analysts say is looming.

Saudi Arabia and 14 other OPEC members have shown no sign yet of moving to cut production, a step that would lift prices.

The conventional wisdom is that the country, frustrated by a global supply glut caused by soaring United States output, is prepared to let prices fall to squeeze U.S. shale oil producers out of the market.

But Hamm, striking a defiant tone, told investors Thursday the U.S. shale boom won't end any time soon.

"We see OPEC worried about that and want to slow down what we're doing," he said.

Indeed, North Dakota considers OPEC its "chief competitor," Lynn Helms, head of the state's Department of Mineral Resources, said last month.

The sale of all its crude oil hedge positions from October through 2016 netted Continental a $433 million one-time gain for the current quarter. With the move, Continental is effectively declaring a premature victory over OPEC.

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