April 2 (Reuters) - The number of rigs drilling for oil in the United States declined by 11 this week to 802, the smallest decline since December, oil services firm Baker Hughes said in its closely watched survey on Thursday.
The data, which was released a day earlier due to the Good Friday holiday, compares with declines of 12 and 41 rigs in the prior two weeks and is a sign the collapse in drilling over the past few months has reached its low point.
After a precipitous drop since October, the U.S. oil rig count is nearing a pivotal level that experts say could begin to dent production, bolster prices and even coax oil companies back to the well pad in the coming months.
Energy producers responded quickly to a steep drop in oil prices over the last six months, idling nearly 800 rigs, or 50 percent, since a peak of 1,609 rigs in October.
With the decline this week, the number of oil rigs has fallen for a record 17th week in a row to the lowest level since 2011, according to Baker Hughes data going back to 1987. (Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Marguerita Choy)