The falling oil price has forced the world’s biggest mining company, BHP Billiton, to cut its US shale oil operation by 40%.
It is reducing the number of rigs from 26 to 16 by the end of the June.
However, BHP said it expected increased productivity to boost output by some 50% over the period.
BHP Billiton has promised not to reduce dividends to shareholders despite dramatic price falls in all its main commodities – iron ore, copper and oil.
Oil prices have fallen by more than half since last summer, with the price of both Brent and US crude now below $50 a barrel.
Chief executive Andrew Mackenzie said: “In petroleum, we have moved quickly in response to lower prices.
“The revised drilling programme will benefit from significant improvements in drilling and completions efficiency.”
In 2011, BHP spent $20bn breaking into the shale oil and gas market buying Petrohawk Energy and Chesapeake Energy in Louisiana and Texas.
Mr Mackenzie said the group’s drilling operations would now focus on its Black Hawk field in Texas.
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