UPDATE 1-Canada's Alberta to limit spending because of oil price drop

Mon Dec 15, 2014 3:20pm EST
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CALGARY Alberta Dec 15 (Reuters) - The Canadian province of Alberta, whose oil sands are the largest source of U.S. oil imports, said on Monday it will immediately rein in spending for the remainder of the fiscal year to cope with the rapid fall in crude prices.

The province, which relies on payments from the petroleum industry to fund nearly one-third of its budget, will restrain new hiring, limit spending on goods and services and cut discretionary grants, travel and training costs.

Alberta Premier Jim Prentice said recently that tumbling oil prices could cut provincial revenue by as much as C$7 billion ($6.01 billion) for the rest of fiscal year ending March 31, 2015, according to media reports. Prentice has estimated that oil would average between $65 and $75 a barrel for the remainder of the fiscal year.

West Texas Intermediate crude, the benchmark North American oil price, settled at $55.91 on Monday, down from more than $107 per barrel in June. ($1 = 1.1645 Canadian dollars) (Reporting by Scott Haggett; Editing by Alan Crosby and Jeffrey Benkoe)