North Slope oil prices dipped below $60 a barrel for the first time since mid-January, according to the Alaska Department of Revenue’s daily post.

The $59.45 per barrel price reflects a $2.67 drop in Friday’s activity, according to the department’s most recent estimate.

The last time oil fell below $60 was Jan. 14, when the price hit $59.62. January was also the lowest  for a monthly average this the year at $60.40.

Oil prices have been chronically low for nearly four years, forcing the state to tap savings to cover essential services such as education and public safety.

Oil has been spending some time this year in the $70 range, but it has not seen $80 since last October.

The steady decline this month also comes at a time when state lawmakers are debating the size of the Permanent Fund dividend and whether it can afford a decades-old formula to cover the annual payouts.

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