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FILE - In this July 26, 2011 file photo, Austin Mitchell walks away from an oil derrick near Williston, N.D. Lower oil prices are raising new financial worries in some states that rely on oil taxes to pay for roads and other government services. How well the oil-rich states like North Dakota survive the downturn may hinge on how much they have saved and how greatly they depend on oil revenues for basic services. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File)

U.S. oil drillers cut rigs, scaling back in Permian – Baker Hughes

Dec 12 (Reuters) – Energy companies cut 29 oil drilling rigs in the United States this week, the most in two years, as oil prices kept sliding, bringing crude down 47 percent since June, data showed on Friday.

The number of rigs drilling for oil declined to 1,546 in the week to Dec. 12, according to data from oil services firm Baker Hughes. Twenty-one of the 29 rigs that were cut were in the Permian Basin.

The number of rigs has declined in six of the last nine weeks since hitting a record high of 1,609 in mid October. The number remains up more than 100 from a year ago, when there were 1,411 rigs seeking oil.

Energy traders have been watching rig data to see if the steep price drop has begun to prompt oil drillers to cut back sharply on the number of rigs.

U.S. crude oil futures on Friday fell as low as $57.34 per barrel, the lowest in five years.

U.S. oil and gas producers are scaling back capital spending plans for 2015.

(Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by David Gregorio) Copyright (2014) Thomson Reuters. Click for restrictions.

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